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V. Handler’s Rights
a) Public Facilities and Accommodations
Titles II and III of the ADA makes it clear that service animals are allowed in public facilities and accommodations. A service animal must be allowed to accompany the handler to any place in the building or facility where members of the public, program participants, customers, or clients are allowed. Even if the business or public program has a “no pets” policy, it may not deny entry to a person with a service animal. Service animals are not pets. So, although a “no pets” policy is perfectly legal, it does not allow a business to exclude service animals.
When a person with a service animal enters a public facility or place of public accommodation, the person cannot be asked about the nature or extent of his disability. Only two questions may be asked:
1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
2. What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?
These questions should not be asked, however, if the animal’s service tasks are obvious. For example, the questions may not be asked if the dog is observed guiding an individual who is blind or has low vision, pulling a person’s wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability or balance to an individual with an observable mobility disability.4
A public accommodation or facility is not allowed to ask for documentation or proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal. Local laws that prohibit specific breeds of dogs do not apply to service animals.5
A place of public accommodation or public entity may not ask an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees. Entities cannot require anything of people with service animals that they do not require of individuals in general, with or without pets. If a public accommodation normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.6
Laws prohibit employment discrimination because of a disability. Employers are required to provide reasonable accommodation. Allowing an individual with a disability to have a service animal or an emotional support animal accompany them to work may be considered an accommodation. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces the employment provisions of the ADA (Title I), does not have a specific regulation on service animals.7 In the case of a service animal or an emotional support animal, if the disability is not obvious and/or the reason the animal is needed is not clear, an employer may request documentation to establish the existence of a disability and how the animal helps the individual perform his or her job.
Documentation might include a detailed description of how the animal would help the employee in performing job tasks and how the animal is trained to behave in the workplace. A person seeking such an accommodation may suggest that the employer permit the animal to accompany them to work on a trial basis.
Both service and emotional support animals may be excluded from the workplace if they pose either an undue hardship or a direct threat in the workplace.