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Monday, December 18, 2017

WLAD: Definition of Dog Guide & Service Animal

by Gregory Williams, Esq. | What are the definitions of “Dog Guide” and “Service Animal” under Washington State Discrimination Law? Here’s my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).

WASHINGTON LAW AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

Under WLAD, it is an unfair practice, with very few exceptions, for an employer to refuse to hire any person, to discharge or bar any person from employment, or to discriminate against any person in compensation or in other terms and conditions of employment because of age (40+); sex (including pregnancy); marital status; sexual orientation (including gender identity); race; color; creed; national origin; honorably discharged veteran or military status; HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C status; the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability; and state employee or health care whistleblower status. It is also an unfair practice for an employer to retaliate against an employee because the employee complained about job discrimination or assisted with a job discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

DEFINITIONS OF DOG GUIDE & SERVICE ANIMAL

The definitions of “Dog Guide” and “Service Animal” are found under chapter 49.60.040(8), (24) RCW, respectively, and are as follows:
(8) “DOG GUIDE” means a dog that is trained for the purpose of guiding blind persons or a dog that is trained for the purpose of assisting hearing impaired persons. 
(24) “SERVICE ANIMAL” means an animal that is trained for the purpose of assisting or accommodating a sensory, mental, or physical disability of a person with a disability.
***CHANGE TO "SERVICE ANIMAL": EFFECTIVE 1/1/19***
(24) “SERVICE ANIMAL” means any dog or miniature 18 horse, as discussed in section 4 of this act, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing nonviolent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks. This subsection does not apply to RCW 49.60.222 through 49.60.227 with respect to housing accommodations or real estate transactions.
 Id. (hyperlinks added to original); see 2822-S.SL.


LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Employment Discrimination Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. Please note: the information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.

–gw

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