Labor & Employment
Despite Legal Issues, Dogs at Work Can Be a Plus; Hawk & Squirrel are Sent Home
Posted Apr 14, 2010 4:41 PM CST
By Martha Neil
On the theory that a happy employee is a productive employee, a number of avant-garde business owners let employees bring pets to work.
But the arrangement can present both practical and legal issues, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).
At Justia Inc., co-owner Stacy Stern admits that her two toy dogs can be a distraction, sometimes seeking to go on a walk outside her Mountain View, Calif., office when she is on the phone with clients of the legal information provider. But she has found a solution: "What I'll do is instant message a couple of people who love the pugs like I do and one will usually take them out," she tells the newspaper.
Where workers are concerned, attorney Jon Hyman of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz suggests that owners set advance expectations concerning such issues as what will be done with the pet if the owner needs to go to a meeting. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must also accommodate employees who may be allergic to animals, he notes.
Pets at work can be a plus with clients and fellow workers, brightening everyone's mood, proponents say. But they can also be too cute, as was the case with Tailer the squirrel, says co-founder Isaac Garcia of Central Desktop Inc. "Everybody wanted to take a picture with him or feed him a carrot," he says of Tailer, explaining why he subsequently banned pets from his company's Pasadena, Calif., offices as an unneeded distraction.
A hawk also proved problematic, frightening some children, says co-owner Andrea Grossman of Grossman's Paper Co. in Petaluma, Calif. The 105,000-square-foot sticker manufacturer still has up to a dozen dogs on its premises at any given time, as well as three outdoor kennels for any canine that needs a time-out.
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