Pets In the Workplace: Part II - Tipping the Litigious Scales

Last week, we surveyed the many tangible and intangible benefits of sharing our cubicles with Cubby and Cupcake.

On the flip side, there are many workplace issues to consider before laying out the welcome mat for our animal companions.

Off the top, several work settings are probably not suitable for animal companions. Hospitals (with the possible exception of therapy pets on the psych, geriatric and rehab wards), food manufacturing and pharmaceutical plants and chemical laboratories are problematic for obvious reasons. The high probability of patient infections and product contamination could prove to be a lawyer’s delight. Not to mention the possibility of industrial injury to your beloved pet.

The health and well-being of colleagues is another factor. Pet-haters and the pet-indifferent aside, some people can have serious allergic reactions to pet dander including severe rashes and respiratory distress that can induce panic attacks. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America estimates that between 15 and 30 percent of Americans suffer from some form of pet allergy. An amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 recognizes “animal allergy” as a legitimate disability. Dismissing a co-worker’s complaints could be grounds for a workplace discrimination lawsuit.

One wild card in the pet-corporate connection is the fact that not all pet temperaments are created equal. Unless the same pets are an established part of the corporate landscape (thereby knowing each other very well), or are all trained, bone fide service pets, it is impossible to predict how well one animal companion will get along with another, let alone a host of unfamiliar humans coming and going all day. Novel situations that pose no threat in one instance could spell disaster in another.

Hard as it is to wrap the mind around, there are potential clients out there who are just plain afraid of animals. Putting them on-edge could “blow the deal” and wipe you off their list for future consideration.

Okay, sometimes it may be best for our pets to “tele-commute” via a home-monitoring system accessible on our smart phones.

But those businesses ripe, ready and safe for daily play-romps may see a spike in integrity, congeniality and overall satisfaction.

Why? Our pets don’t let us get away with sabotage and subterfuge!