Animals as a public accommodation.
A growing public trend is the presence of service animals in places like stores, restaurants, schools, airports and job sites. The basis for this trend is not a new one. It comes from Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which guarantees people with disabilities the “full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation.” This guarantee from the ADA allows for the use of service animals to help people with disabilities accomplish these public accommodations.
The difference between Service Animals, Emotional Support Animals, and Therapy Animals.
Some employers react negatively to the idea of allowing service animals in the workplace. This might be due to a misunderstanding of the difference between service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals. These are entirely different categories of animals.
Service animals are not considered to be pets. These are trained animals that must qualify in two categories to be protected as service animals under the ADA: Continue reading Going Wild About Service Animals at Work
Vermont Governor Phil Scott recently signed Vermont House Bill 136. This new law amends the Vermont Fair Employment Practices Act by expanding the protections for pregnant employees.
This new law requires Vermont employers to provide accommodations for individuals suffering from pregnancy–related conditions. Under the law, a “pregnancy–related condition” is defined as a limitation of an employee’s ability to perform the functions of a job caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth.
While the new law does not provide examples of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, possible reasonable accommodations that an that the employer may be required to provide include, but are not limited to:
- Restroom breaks,
- Permission to carry a water bottle,
- Breaks for increased water intake
- Periodic rest,
- Assistance with manual labor,
- Job restructuring,
- A modified work schedule, or
- A temporary transfer to work that is less physically demanding or hazardous.
In addition, the law does not require employers to provide pregnancy disability leave. However, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to female employees (or applicants) who have a pregnancy-related disability. A leave of absence may be a reasonable accommodation for a pregnancy-related disability.
Finally, employers will be required to post notice of the provisions of the law in a form provided by the Vermont Commissioner of the Department of Labor in a place conspicuous to employees at the employer’s place of business. This notice has not yet been developed.
The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018. It is recommended that employers review their policies and procedures relating to pregnant employees and update those policies/procedures as necessary to comply with the new law. In addition, employers must be prepared to post the new notice starting January 1st.