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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since there are several people here who have poodles as service dogs or service dogs in training and we have great threads about training, but we don't have a specific discussion on legal issues related to service dogs I thought I would start one with the following item.

In my email this weekend was a message from my department chairperson regarding Javelin and accessibility in my workplace (a public community college, with a specific affirmative action officer whose responsibilities include ADA matters). The college has done tons of work to make itself ADA compliant and more safety savvy by replacing various doors, installing evacuation wheelchairs near stairwells, signage, AE defibrillators and the like. There are also sign language interpreters for students and deaf/hearing impaired faculty and we have a large Center for Students with Disabilities that provides testing and many other accommodations. Generally I think the institution does pretty well with this stuff.

Back to my email and my problem. Attached to my chairperson's email was a form that she said the Affirmative Action Office requires me to complete. First off I think the form is not really needed since I have informed public safety, my department and my students about having a service dog in training accompany me on campus. In my informational messages to those people I told them he was doing public access training (in NYS dogs in training are granted full access) and that he would also be learning tasks to assist me. This is all the ADA requires and, in fact, all that it allows. I was pretty taken aback by the form and what it asks for. Here it is:

"Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for qualified employees with disabilities. This form provides a standard written documentation of an employee’s request for reasonable accommodation and is to be submitted to the Affirmative Action, ADA/504 Officer. The form may be submitted via the Department Head/Supervisor or directly to the Affirmative Action, ADA/504 Officer. Completing this form is not a guarantee that the request will be granted. Approved accommodations are subject to annual review.


Request From: _______________________________________ Date: __________________________ Position/Title: ______________________________________ Office Ext: ______________________ Department: __________________________________ Supervisor: ____________________________ Home Address: _______________________________________________________________________ ___________________ Home Phone: _____________________ Cell Phone: ______________________ PLEASE BRIEFLY ANSWER QUESTIONS 1-5 BELOW: (Continued on page 2 of form).
1. What is your disability? What, if any, job function are you having difficulty performing? ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________
2. How does your disability impact your daily living outside of work? ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________
3. How does the disability impact your ability to perform your duties at work? ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________
4. Describe what you think will help you effectively perform your job and how that accommodation will assist you.
___________________________________________________________________________________


___________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________________________


5. Please list and attach your medical documentation, if available. Verification may be required.




To be completed by Department Head/Supervisor: Would the requested accommodation, if granted, fundamentally alter the position or impact any other employee’s job duties or position? Yes [ ] No [ ] If yes, please explain and/or provide any other relevant information.
____________________________________________ _______________________________ Signed: Department Head/Supervisor Date Print Name: Dept. Head/Supervisor (The department supervisor is responsible for implementing the accommodation, subject to approval.)



_______________________________ ________________________ _______________________ Signature of Employee Print/Type Employee Name Date Reviewed by AA Officer
Action(s) taken:


A.

Interactive Process – Meeting held with Requestor and supervisor -- union representatives may be present.
_____________________ _________ _________________________ _________ Date Initial Conference Date (if applicable) Initial
Outcome: ____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________
Granted/Approved __________________ C. Disapprove ______________________


B.


__________________________ ______________ Craig Wright, ADA/504 Officer Date
*Approved accommodations are subject to annual review, and may require resubmitting of medical documentation and/or update request form."


Are they kidding!!!!!!!! Don't they understand what they can and cannot ask? I particularly take issue with the first question and the 5th question (I highlighted red, but also think it is unfair to my department chair to ask her to be the arbiter of the "Interactive Process" since she is not an expert on disabilities or the ADA.


I wrote an email to the affirmative action officer and told him that under the ADA only allows the college to ask if the dog is needed because of a disability and what work or tasks the dog is trained (in this case being trained) to perform. I told him that indeed the dog is doing work because of a disability and told him the tasks that are being trained. I told him I beleieved that my email complied with my obligations under the ADA and I attached the ADA service dog requirements page from https://www.ada.gov /service_animals_2010.htm so that they can read what is actually allowed. I also said that I would be continuing to bring Javelin to work with me and that I hoped the information I had provided would helpt the institution to be in better compliance. Privately I wonder how many students who wanted to have service dogs with them have been either tricked into giving information they didn't need to or who have not brought their working dogs with them to campus because of this form.



Let's use this thread to talk about these kinds of service dog issues. I know there are plenty of people with lots of expertise here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Mfmst, yes there are differences between the ADA and various state laws. Fortunately for me New York State does treat in training service dogs with the same access rights with their handlers that the ADA grants. But putting that aside the ADA is very clear that a person cannot be asked about the nature of their disability, nor can the dog be asked to demonstrate the tasks. It is only allowed to ask if the animal is needed for a person's disability and what specific tasks it does (or in New York is being trained to do). The other questions being asked on the college's form are not allowed under either federal or state statutes.

Our very dear friend who has come to the Indy 500 with us the past two years is a career (non-political) attorney who has worked on ADA compliance for several Federal agencies, most recently the Department of Justice. I have a good person watching my back on this.
 

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WOW! Do let us know the results!
 
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where i am, ada trumps anything else. basic question boils down to can you establish a nexus between disability and what the dog/service animal does. a doctor's note is normally not required when something is obvious, as in a guide dog for someone blind, but may be requested when it is not obvious what the issue is. i rewrote our house rules to make that very clear. a renter in my condo association tried to sue ($50k) because her claimed seizure alert dog was not allowed everywhere off leash. i provided written testimony that i saw her rollerskating yards ahead of her off leash dog. how does a dog alert to a seizure onset in that situation. she lost her case - and the investigating officer was very sympathetic to her and biased against my hoa. another former board member tried the same kind of argument re why his pug should be allowed to follow him around off leash. we shut him down, too.

it's important to note that there is a difference between being asked to provide an accommodation in a housing situation and a public access one. it's a fine line, but i believe there is one. in both situations, there is no requirement that a misbehaving animal be tolerated, no matter what the person's disability is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
patk an out of control dog is not required to be allowed access, although a service dog can be off leash if it under the verbal or signaled control of the person it works for. The nature of a person's disability is absolutely off limits though under both the ADA and New York law. The ADA also makes it clear that the dog cannot be asked to perform a demonstration of its tasks, so that case involving the girl who had to show how her dog helped her in the bathroom is clearly wrong too.

I will update when I have answers. I do also hope that we can have ongoing discussions of how people here fare with issues like this one.
 

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here's the language from the doj disability rights section guidance:

Q7. What questions can a covered entity's employees ask to determine if a dog is a service animal?
A. In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability.


call me nitpicky, but despite the prohibitive language, it seems that being able to ask what task a dog is trained to perform is getting close to asking about the disability. it's a fine line. the questions one is permitted to ask get tougher when the concepts embodied in the ada are invoked within the parameters of the fair housing act.

does your college have dormitories? because it looks like the questionnaire was set up for a housing situation.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
patk, no we are entirely a commuter campus. And yes, asking what the service animal does certainly gives big hints about the nature of the disability. It is a situation with many complexities, but that request form is not complex, it is just way out of bounds.
 

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it looks like a form someone worked up based on the fha, which does permit asking for a doctor's certificate if there is a question about the disability. of course ny law ins and outs may have some impact as well. it's good you have the benefit of an experienced lawyer as a friend.
 

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I wish my program director was here to answer your question but I've been poking in service dog forum and it seems like certain places have limited ADA rights. There was a quiz about it and I was a bit surprised by some of the grey areas. I know for housing they can ask you specific questions even deny your program certified service dog if there is a behavior question. I do remember that someone had a question about their apartment asking them for their specific disability and I believe the consensus was they could ask that. To be honest I can't remember the entire thread, they have a lot of questions like this on service dog central forum. The forum you have above does seem to have some very invasive questions. I do know that businesses cannot ask you these questions in person.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

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It's a little old, but here's some information about service dogs at work. Reasonable Accommodation and Assistance Dogs in the Workplace

Also, send along the reasons a disabled person with a service animal can legally be asked to leave.

1. Dog is not housebroken.
2. Dog is barking out of control.
3. Dog is not under handler's control.

Let them know you are aware of both sides of this issue, not just what a service dog is, but that you know your responsibilities as a handler, too. And, I agree, that form needs updating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
snow my campus is non-residential so none of the issues related to housing remotely apply either, and even if there were dorms I don't see how it could apply to me since I am a classroom faculty member and would have nothing to do with residence life even if we had such.


Here is the body of the email I sent. I think I covered the points you made Click-N-Treat. My next point with him if he raises it in response is the in service vs. in training issue, which in New York is a non-issue.


"My chairperson told me she had a discussion with you regarding my service dog in training and that you want me to complete the form titled Request for Reasonable Accommodation. I have looked at this form and believe that there are questions there that are not allowed to be asked in the context of the ADA. Specifically I cannot be asked what the nature of my disability is, nor can I be required to provide medical documentation regarding such. It is only allowable to ask if the dog is required because of a disability and what work or tasks the dog is trained to do. This dog is simultaneously being trained for public access and to do specific tasks (see below). Please see the first bullet of the section titled "Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals" attachment from https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm


The first bullet is relevant to this situation and clearly makes, at the very least, questions 1 and 5 on this form into violations of the ADA regarding service animals ("Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.") I will tell you the following information as is allowed by the ADA. I am training this dog to do specific mobility related tasks for me as necessitated by my disability (specifically to stand steady (brace) for me when rising and to pick up dropped objects so that I do not have to bend to retrieve things from the floor). The dog has an AKC Canine Good Citizen title and is housebroken, always leashed and under my control. The information I have provided is all that can be legally required of me. If you require that I complete the form I will only provide the information I have provided here. For the college to require further information violates my rights under the ADA and I will seek legal remedy should I be asked to surrender my rights. It is not my intention to be a contrarian regarding this situation, but rather to point out faults in the college's request form and offer a chance to resolve those faults within the institution and its offices. I hope that this will lead to more appropriate efforts by the college to comply with the ADA in both its letter and spirit. In the interim I believe I have complied with the law and will continue to bring the dog with me to provide assistance while I am at work and in other places."
 

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lily i did a prelim search re ada & service animals in the workplace. is there any state law that is applicable? because apparently it is treated differently than a public access accommodation under the ada.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
And the rub in this is that my workplace is a public space since it is a SUNY affiliated campus.

I have not yet received any reply from the affirmative action officer to whom my email was addressed. I am guessing he is asking the college attorney what he should say. In the meantime I did run into my union president and had conversation with him about what was happening. He asked that I give him the details so I forwarded the correspondence to him. One of the other union officers is a faculty member in the Center for Students with Disabilities so he was going to ask her what happens when students need service dogs with them.
 

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I got very lucky with my current job as all I had to do was tell them I needed Jazz and then discussed with them where she would stay while I worked and how I would handle her need for potty breaks.

I left the last job as the new manager flat out told me I could no longer bring her to work.

Unfortunately many want to be students are given such a hard time about bringing their service dogs to school they give up school rather then spend spoons fighting for their legal rights. The harassment is so common that when a friend recently applied at a new school she was shocked by them actually following the laws and asking only the legal questions and a few legitimate ones like how will you handle the lab classes you must take? Her last school was a constant battle and she did drop out for a number of years before getting up the courage to try again.
 

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from what i've read, in the case of an employee's service dog there are a couple of issues that differ from public access: 1) you have to ask for the accommodation 2) the employer has the right to ask for documentation of the need for accommodation if it's not obvious 3) the accommodation can be denied if the cost to the employer is prohibitive and 4) consideration has to be given to other employees (who may have dog allergies, for example).

you can see the attempt to balance employer rights and the rights of the disabled, which is fine, because the eeoc outlook is still that employers have an obligation to work out a needed accommodation (whether or not it has to do with a service animal) whenever possible.

i think people should be aware that there is a current bill that passed out of the house judiciary cmtee on the 7th that is intended to dilute the ada - hr620. here's a write up about it from may: https://rewire.news/article/2017/05/30/americans-disabilities-act-attack-congress/
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
spindledreams, thank you for adding those other people's experiences along with your own to this discussion. The point about students is a large part of why I am so bothered by this. I know the ADA provisions and made sure that I would be able to comply with them and those of New York State before Javelin ever came to campus with me. I will do what I need to to deal with this, but I am really concerned about how students would respond if given this form. Would they provide information that they are not required to or would they not come to this college (where we have excellent support services for students with disabilities? Either way there are big problems.

ETA, since you were posting while I was writing patk, I did ask/tell my employer through my chairperson and the chief of public safety of my requirements and my chairperson acknowledged that request favorably. Our collective mistake seems to have been to not include the college's affirmative action officer who is also responsible for ADA compliance. It doesn't make sense to me that an employer should have a more intrusive right to ask for documentation than a business owner. Medical information is private (and protected in other ways, such as HIPA) and asking for documentation of a disability seems intrusive, especially in an environment where there is an otherwise well established relationship between the employer and the employee. In this instance allergies should not be a concern since we are talking poodle and there is no cost to my employer since they are not being asked to install a ramp or any other equipment. All of those things are already present on campus because it has done the things it needed to to make all of the facilities here ADA compliant. The piece you linked to about HR620 is disturbing since it clearly takes very simple and straightforward procedures and makes it more difficult for people with disabilities to exercise their rights of access.
 
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Service Dog

Sorry, this is not a direct answer to the ADA thread, but I wanted to check in with people who have a service dog or who are training one. I am planning on getting a miniature poodle as a service dog. I'm in Northern California and wondered if anyone has any input on a breeder recommendations. I see Clarion, Black Pearl, Midnight. Temperament is key, obviously. I think trainability is built in with a poodle : ) ANY help or advice at all is welcome. I plan on going to a trainer to assist with obedience and PAT, but to train myself for my particular needs. I don't know anyone else with a service dog, so as I say, any advice, suggestions are welcome. Thank you.
 
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