The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has sued an employer for refusing to hire a job applicant because he used a service dog.
In the complaint filed in March, the EEOC accused the employer of failing to accommodate, refusing to hire and retaliating against the man who’d applied for a truck driver position.
The action illustrates just how broadly the EEOC construes the Americans with Disabilities Act when it comes to individuals who rely on service or comfort animals to cope with their disabilities.
In the case at hand, the applicant had been admitted to driver training with the trucking firm’s partner training company. Before starting the training the applicant told the company that he is a veteran who uses a trained service dog to help control anxiety and to wake him from nightmares caused by post-traumatic stress disorder.
After he successfully completed the training program, the trucking firm refused to advance him to its driver-orientation additional training on the road, which required staying overnight from home. Moreover, the company had a “no pet” policy and never hired him.
Incidentally, the EEOC noted that at the same time the company had denied the applicant’s request to accommodate his service dog, it developed a new service dog process to address requests seeking the use of such animals.
The EEOC has asked the court to order the company to hire the applicant and pay him back pay as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
The agency notes that using a trained service dog can be a reasonable accommodation for a disability and that employers must consider requests to use a service dog seriously.