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New Regs Could Lead to Greater Acceptance of Psychiatric Service Dogs in the Workplace

6.7.11

Jim McDonald, managing partner of the Irvine office, was quoted in the BNA Daily Labor Report article "New Regs Could Lead to Greater Acceptance of Psychiatric Service Dogs in the Workplace." The article cited new regulations from the Department of Justice related to public access under the Americans With Disabilities Act that address the use of animals in dealing with mental health issues. Although most employers may never have encountered an employee needing the services of a psychiatric assistance dog at work, the DOJ regulations actually narrow the definition for assistance animals in general. They specify that assistance animals that provide help for psychiatric impairments are covered under the ADA. Jim noted that the new regulations cover the public accommodation title of the ADA, not the employment section. "But the animal has to be trained to perform a service it's not just its presence for comfort," he said. He added that it "would make sense" for the definition to carry over into the workplace, but as of now that connection has not been made. "It's a new frontier for human resources professionals."

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