Should a truck fleet be required to hire a driver and his service dog? Yes, says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is suing truckload hauler CRST Inc. over this very issue.
One of the country’s largest trucking companies, CRST had declined to hire a military veteran who required a service dog to help deal with post-traumatic stress and mood disorders that had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist.
The man applied for a truck driver position with CRST and prepared to enter the company’s certification course. After he was admitted but before he began the course, he disclosed both his disabilities and his need to use a service dog, which had been prescribed by his doctor.
CRST informed him he couldn’t advance to the on-the-road training program, which requires overnights away from home, due to the company’s “no pet” policy.
EEOC said that around the same time that CRST denied the man’s request, it developed a new service dog process to address such accommodation requests, but denied the man an opportunity to qualify for accommodation under the new policy.
Gregory Gochanour, an EEOC regional attorney, says, “The use of a trained service dog can be a reasonable accommodation. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to an employee with a disability.”
“Employers must consider allowing an employee with a disability to use a service animal at work unless doing so would result in an undue hardship,” warns Eric B. Meyer, a partner in law firm Dilworth Paxson’s labor law practice.
“If there is another reasonable accommodation available, go ahead and propose it.,” he says. “Otherwise, it’s bring your dog to work day.”