People suffering from a range of physical and mental disabilities frequently rely on companion animals, most commonly dogs, to assist them as they go about their day. Most employers, however, prohibit employees from bringing animals to work, creating a tension between employer and employee based on a misunderstanding about disability. As part of our series on mental health, this blog covers a case involving a companion animal for someone suffering from depression and post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD).
Joyce Riggs worked for the Bennett County Hospital and Nursing Home (the “Hospital”) from March 2006 until her termination in March 2015. Between 2006 and 2012, Joyce brought a companion animal to work with her to help manage her depression and PTSD. When Ethel Martin became CEO in 2012, however, the Hospital adopted a more restrictive policy regarding pets in the workplace. Joyce informally requested permission to continue bringing her companion animal to work, but the Hospital denied her request.