Q: What employers are covered by Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and when is the coverage effective?
The Title I employment provisions apply to private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Employers with 25 or more employees were covered as of July 26, 1992. Employers with 15 or more employees were covered two years later, beginning July 26, 1994.
Q: What practices and activities are covered by the employment nondiscrimination requirements?
The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits, and all other employment-related activities.
Q: Who is protected from employment discrimination?
Employment discrimination is prohibited against “qualified individuals with disabilities.” This includes applicants for employment and employees.
Q: What is the definition of a disability under the ADA?
Under the ADA, an individual is considered to have a disability if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability are also protected.
Q: Who is a “qualified individual with a disability”?
A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the “essential functions” of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
Q: Does an employer have to give preference to a qualified applicant with a disability over other applicants?
No. An employer is free to select the most qualified applicant available and to make decisions based on reasons unrelated to a disability.
Q: What limitations does the ADA impose on medical examinations and inquiries about disability?
An employer may not ask or require a job applicant to take a medical examination before making a job offer. It cannot make any pre-employment inquiry about a disability or the nature or severity of a disability. An employer may, however, ask questions about the ability to perform specific job functions and may, within certain limitations, ask an individual with a disability to describe or demonstrate how s/he would perform these functions.
Q: Does the ADA require employers to develop written job descriptions?
No. The ADA does not require employers to develop or maintain job descriptions. However, a written job description that is prepared before advertising or interviewing applicants for a job will be considered as evidence along with other relevant factors.
Q: What is a “reasonable accommodation”?
A reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodations also include adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities.
Q: When is an employer required to make a reasonable accommodation?
An employer is only required to accommodate a ‘known’ disability of a qualified applicant or employee. The requirement generally will be triggered by a request from an individual with a disability, who frequently will be able to suggest an appropriate accommodation. If the individual does not request an accommodation, the employer is not obligated to provide one except where an individual’s known disability impairs his/her ability to know of, or effectively communicate a need for, an accommodation that is obvious to the employer.
Q: What are the limitations on the obligation to make a reasonable accommodation?
The individual with a disability requiring the accommodation must be otherwise qualified, and the disability must be known to the employer. In addition, an employer is not required to make an accommodation if it would impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. “Undue hardship” is defined as “an action requiring significant difficulty or expense” when considered in light of a number of factors, and is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Can an employer be required to reallocate an essential function of a job to another employee as a reasonable accommodation?
No. An employer is not required to reallocate essential functions of a job as a reasonable accommodation.
Q: Is telecommuting a reasonable accommodation?
Telecommuting may be a reasonable accommodation depending on the kind of job you have and whether the essential functions of the job can be performed off-site. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lists the following factors to be considered when deciding whether telecommuting is a reasonable accommodation:
-Whether the employer can adequately supervise the employee
-Whether certain equipment or tools that cannot be replicated at home are required
- Whether face-to-face interaction with other employees is needed
- Whether in-person interaction with outside colleagues, clients, or customers is necessary
- Whether the job requires the employee to have immediate access to documents or other information located only in the workplace
If an employer already allows telecommuting for employees, but requires employees to work for a specific number of months or years before becoming eligible for telecommuting, it might be a reasonable accommodation for the employer to waive its time requirement for employees with disabilities. Under these circumstances, the employer has likely already determined that employees are capable of performing their job duties while working from home. If, however, the nature of the job is such that physical presence at the workplace is necessary, then telecommuting might not be a reasonable accommodation.
Q: What is an “undue hardship”?
Undue hardship is an “action requiring significant difficulty or expense.” This is decided by looking at factors like the nature and cost of the accommodation compared to the size, the overall financial resources of the employer, and the structure of the business. If the employer is part of a larger entity, the overall resources of the larger organization are also considered. For these reasons, cost alone is rarely found to be an undue hardship, except possibly for very small employers. However, if an accommodation has a significantly negative effect on the employer’s business operation, the may be considered an undue hardship.
Q: What happens if the employer can show that my accommodation request is an undue hardship?
Even if a particular accommodation would be an undue hardship on the employer, the employer must consider other options to try to find an accommodation that would not pose an undue hardship. In the rare case that the cost of the accommodation poses an undue hardship, the employer should provide the cost up to the point that there is an undue hardship and then allow the employee the option of paying for the other portion of the cost. Likewise, if the employer gets money from an external source, like a state vocational rehabilitation agency, that would pay the entire cost of the accommodation, it cannot claim cost as an undue hardship.
Q: As long as my office is accessible, do the other parts of the office, like the kitchen and break room, have to be accessible?
Yes. Employees with a disability should have access to areas where they work, as well as non-work areas, such as break rooms, lunch rooms, training rooms, kitchens, and restrooms, used by other employees, unless providing access would be an undue hardship. Even events like conferences and parties held out of the office should be accessible.
Q: What if the employer refuses to hire me because the HR person thinking it wouldn’t be safe to have me around?
The ADA lets employers establish standards for determining whether an employee poses a direct threat to the health or safety of that individual or others. Direct threat is defined as “significant risk of substantial harm to the health and safety of the individual or others if, and only if, that risk cannot be eliminated or reduced by reasonable accommodations.” Deciding that an employee is a direct threat must be based on an individual assessment of that particular employee and must be based on the best available medical or other object evidence, as opposed to generalizations, ignorance, stereotypes, fears, or patronizing attitudes. For example, it would violate the ADA if an employee with bipolar disorder is fired after disclosing his/her disability because a supervisor believes people with bipolar disorder are dangerous. This reaction is based on myths and stereotypes rather than the best available evidence.
Q: If I use illegal drugs or am an alcoholic, and I covered by the ADA?
The ADA treats individuals who use illegal drugs differently from individuals who misuse alcohol. People who are currently engaging in the use of illegal drugs are specifically excluded from the ADA definition of “qualified individual with a disability.” Therefore, employers may take action against the employee on the basis of drug use without violating the ADA. However, a person who used illegal drugs in the past but went through a rehabilitation program is considered to be a person with a disability and is protected from discrimination.
Alcoholism is treated differently under the ADA. A person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection. A person who has alcoholism may be considered to be a person with a disability depending on whether the person has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. If you have alcoholism and meet the ADA’s definition of disability, you may be entitles to a reasonable accommodation, such as leave for treatment or therapy. It is not a reasonable accommodation to allow an employee to consume alcohol, or be under the influence of alcohol, at work if this violates legitimate workplace rules. An employer may discipline or even fire you if your alcohol use affects your job performance or conduct. And of course, your employer may have a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace policy.
Q: If I have a disability, can my employer evaluate my job performance using the same performance and conduct standards that they use for everybody else?
Generally, yes, as long as the same standards apply to everybody. An employer can evaluate performance standards, such as how well the employee performs both essential and marginal job functions and whether the employee is meeting basic job requirements like teamwork, customer service, work output, and product quality. Employers may also evaluate and enforce conduct standards like appearance standards, rules against destroying company property, rules about computer and equipment usage, and attendance requirements. Your employer may not, however, use standards that are not job-related if the standards have the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability.
Q: Is an employer allowed to require the same quantitative and qualitative requirements for performance as it requires for employees without disabilities?
Yes. An employee with a disability should meet the same production standards as all other employees doing the same job. Employers do not have to lower production standards as a reasonable accommodation. However, a reasonable accommodation might be required to assist employees with disabilities in meeting the same production standards.
Q: If an employee with a disability violates a workplace conduct standard, can the employee be disciplined?
Generally, yes, as long as the conduct standard is job-related and consistent with business necessity, and all other employees are held to the same standard. For example, if an employee who uses a wheelchair starts frequent arguments with his/her supervisor or co-workers, s/he may be disciplined because that conduct is not related to his/her disability. The ADA does not generally protect employees from the consequences of violating conduct standards, even when the violation is caused by the disability. However, employers may be required to provide reasonable accommodations to enable the employee to meet the conduct standards.
Q: Is it all right for an employer to require an employee to get or change treatment for a disability to help or comply with a conduct standard?
No. Decisions about medications and medical treatment are generally personal medical decisions that take into account a number of factors about which the employer may not be aware or have the expertise to consider. Even if the employers just want to help the employee, they should discuss the unacceptable conduct rather than medical treatments or medications to treat a disability.
Q: Does having a disability protect me from being fired or laid off?
No. Title I of the ADA protects employees from being discriminated against on the basis of disability. It is not a violation for an employer to fire, demote, not promote, reduce hours, or change any other condition of employment for some other reason that is not related to your disability. The same situation exists with layoffs or reductions-in-force. If your discharge is not based on your disability, your employer has not violated the ADA.
Q: What should I do if my employer has discriminated against me because of my disability?
Complaints may be filed with either the EEOC or, in Rhode Island, the Human Rights Commission. Private lawsuits are also an option, but you cannot file a lawsuit until after the EEOC or the Human Rights Commission has investigated your complaint and has issued a notice that’s referred to as a “Right to Sue Letter.”
Q: The City Hall in my town is a very old building and I’ve been told that, because it is a historical building, it does not have to comply with the ADA. Is this true?
There are two different concepts in this question. The first relates to access to an historic preservation program and the second is program access in the form of access to city services. Structural changes to facilities that are “historic,” meaning they are listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or designated as historic under state or local law, might threaten or destroy the historical significance of the property, so the ADA might not require those kinds of structural changes. If that’s the case, though, the entity must consider alternatives to such structural changes. These might include providing the government service in another building, or using audiotape or video images to demonstrate the historical significance of the inaccessible portions of the property. If alterations are made to the property, though, then the changes must conform to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which has specific provisions on historic buildings, to the maximum extent feasible.
Q: What about buildings that aren’t really historical, but were built before the ADA went into effect? Does the local government have to make those buildings accessible?
Government entities have to make sure that people with disabilities are not excluded from government services or activities just because the buildings are not accessible, even if they were built before the ADA. Government programs, when viewed in their entirety, have to be readily accessible to people with disabilities. This is called “program accessibility.” Governments don’t necessarily have to make these older facilities completely architecturally accessible, but they do have to make the programs accessible.
Q: Most of the time when people talk about accessibility, they are talking about wheelchair access. I’m deaf and I need effective communication for accessibility. Does my local government have to provide effective communication for me if I am deaf?
Yes. The government must provide communication with individuals with disabilities that is as effective as communication with others, unless doing so would be an undue financial or administrative burden or would cause a fundamental alteration of the program. The government entity must provide auxiliary aids and services when they are necessary for effective communication. What “effective communication” means, though, may be different for different situations and individuals. For example, if a person is deaf and going to a municipal courthouse to pay a parking ticket, because this would be a routine transaction that would require little back-and-forth communication, it would probably not require the use of a sign language interpreter. Just writing and gestures could be effective communication under those circumstances for some people. But if the same person wanted to fight the ticket and appear in court to explain why s/he should not have to pay the ticket, there may be a need for a sign language interpreter to effectively communicate, if that is the person’s usual means of communication.
Q: How could my need for a sign language interpreter cause a “fundamental alteration” of a government program?
It rarely would. But if, for example, a city operates a planetarium, and you request that the lights be left on so that you can see the sign language interpreter, that would require a fundamental alteration of the program since it’s essential that the planetarium is dark so that participants can see the display of lights. Just because the planetarium doesn’t have to leave all the lights on, though, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to try to provide effective communication. Maybe the sign language interpreter could be illuminated by a flash light in a small part of the space without fundamentally altering the program, or the planetarium could offer a transcript of what’s being said.
Q: Does the government have to provide extra services to a person with a disability? I have a disability and I cannot shovel the snow on my sidewalks or driveway. Does the city or state have to do that for me?
No, this service would not have to be provided. Unless the government entity clears everybody’s sidewalks or driveways, they do not have to clear them for people with disabilities.
Q: Does the state have to provide printed materials in large print if I have low vision?
Yes. Printed materials that it provides to other citizens must be made available in other formats so that people who are blind or have low vision can access them. These alternate formats might include large print, Braille, or materials in electronic format. Remember, though, that you may have to request the materials in the format that you need. Allow time for creating the material in the alternate format that you need.
Q: I went to a county-owned museum and the staff refused to allow me to take the tour because I’m blind. They have a separate tour once a week for people who are blind. I would probably like that, but I wanted to go on the tour right then with my friends. Is it legal for them to have a separate tour for people who are blind?
Yes, they can offer a separate tour for people who are blind. Sometimes museums do this so that they can allow visitors a chance to touch specific items that are not generally available for museum visitors to touch. However, the museum cannot deny you access to the general tour just because they have a special tour available. You can go on either tour, although the museum does not have to allow you to handle objects that the general public is not allowed to handle on the general tour, even if it allows that on the special tour.
Q: I wanted to join a city basketball league, but when I turned in my application, I had to use my asthma inhaler. The person in charge said that I would have to have a physical exam before participating in the league, even though that wasn’t required of anyone else. Can the city require me to get a physical just because I have asthma?
No, the city cannot require a person with a disability to have a medical examination unless it requires that of all participants.
Q: Because of my disability, I have a note taker for my classes at the county community college. Is it all right for the college to charge a surcharge to recover part of the cost of the note taker?
No, the entity is not allowed to place a surcharge on a person with a disability, even when there is a cost to the entity for providing the service.
Q: Do state and local police have obligations under the ADA?
Yes. The ADA covers everything that officers, sheriff’s deputies, and other law enforcement personnel do—receiving citizen complaints, interrogating witnesses, arresting, booking and holding suspects, operating emergency call centers, providing emergency medical services, and enforcing laws.
Q: Do state and local governments have to provide help to people with disabilities during weather emergencies and evacuations?
Yes. Notification systems, as well as evacuation plans, must take into account how individuals with disabilities require different strategies. A “one size fits all” plan for people with disabilities will always be inadequate. For example, a notification system that depends on warning sirens will be inadequate for an individual who is deaf. An evacuation plan that depends on people gathering at specific public locations will be inadequate if the location is not wheelchair accessible. An emergency shelter that is completely accessible to wheelchairs will be inadequate if it refuses to allow service animals to accompany handlers with disabilities.
Q: If no people who use wheelchairs live in a town, then is the town relieved of its obligation to make programs accessible?
No. The absence of individuals with disabilities living in an area cannot be used as a test of whether programs and activities must be accessible. As an example, a town’s administrative offices are located on the second floor of a two-story building that has no elevator. The mayor says that there are no people in the small town who use wheelchairs so there is no need to make the services of the administrative offices accessible. People, however, who currently do not have a disability may become individuals with disabilities through accident or disease. Individuals with a disability may move into the town. So the apparent lack of people who use wheelchairs for mobility does not excuse the town from taking the necessary measures to make its programs, services, and activities accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Q: Can back doors and freight elevators be used to satisfy the program accessibility requirements?
Yes, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, but only as a last resort and only if such an arrangement provides accessibility comparable to that provided to persons without disabilities, who generally use front doors and passenger elevators. For example, a back door is acceptable if it is kept unlocked during the same hours that the front door remains unlocked; the passageway to and from the floor is accessible, well-lit, neat and clean; and the individual with a mobility impairment does not have to travel excessive distances or through nonpublic areas such as kitchens and storerooms to gain access. A freight elevator would be acceptable if it were upgraded so as to be usable by passengers generally and if the passageways leading to and from the elevator are well-lit, neat and clean, and excessive travel distances or travel through non-public areas are not required.
Q: Are there any limitations on the program accessibility requirement?
Yes. A public entity does not have to take any action if it can show that it would cause a fundamental alteration in the nature of its program or activity or an undue financial and administrative burden. This determination can only be made by the head of the public entity, or someone s/he designates, and must be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion. The determination that undue burdens would results must be based on all resources available for use in the program. If an action would result in such an alteration or such burdens, the public entity must take any other action that would not result in such an alteration or such burdens, but would still have to make sure that individuals with disabilities receive the benefits and services of the program or activity.
Q: What does the ADA require in terms of ticketing?
An entity that sells tickets for a single event or a series of events has to modify its policies, practices, or procedures to make sure that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to buy tickets for accessible seating:
-During the same hours;
-During the same stages of ticket sales, including, but not limited to, pre-sales, promotions, lotteries, waitlists, and general sales;
-Through the same methods of distribution;
-In the same types and numbers of ticketing sales outlets, including telephone service, in-person ticket sales at the facility, or third party ticketing services, as other patrons;
-Under the same terms and conditions as other tickets sold for the same event or series of events
Q: Exactly what does the term “accessible seating” mean?
“Accessible seating” is defined as wheelchair spaces and companion seats that comply with sections 221 and 802 of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (“2010 Standards”), along with any other seats required to be offered for sale to the individual with a disability, as outlined in the regulations.
Q: What information must be available regarding accessible seating?
Individuals with disabilities, and those purchasing tickets for accessible seating for individuals with disabilities, must be informed of the locations of all unsold and otherwise available accessible seating for any ticketed event at the facility.
Features of available accessible seating must be identified and described in enough detail to reasonably permit a person with a disability to decide independently whether a given accessible seating location meets his or her accessibility needs.
Materials, such as seating maps, plans, brochures, pricing charts, and other information that identifies accessible seating, must be provided to the same level of specificity as other seats, if such materials are provided to the general public.
Q: Can the entity charge more for accessible seating?
No, entities cannot charge more for accessible seating, and they are not required to charge less, either. They must provide individuals with disabilities with the opportunity to purchase tickets at all price levels. To do that, they may price accessible seating tickets in proportion to the price of other tickets in the venue. They may not price tickets for accessible seating any higher than the price of other tickets in the same section for the same event, though. For example, if the venue has three different price zones, but all the wheelchair accessible seats are physically located in the most expensive price zone, then the venue has to figure out what percentage of seat in the venue are priced in each of the zones and then price the accessible seats to that same percentage.
Q: Who is eligible to purchase tickets for accessible seats?
Individuals with disabilities who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices may purchase tickets for accessible seats. Other individuals with disabilities are eligible to purchase tickets for accessible seats if they require the use of the features of accessible seating. A ticket purchaser may, for example, have a service animal that requires the additional space offered by accessible seating. Or a ticket purchaser may, for example, be unable to navigate stairs, necessitating the need for accessible seating. Tickets for accessible seats may be sold to individuals who require accessible seating themselves or to someone purchasing on their behalf.
Q: May someone purchasing accessible seating purchase non-accessible seating for family/friends?
For each accessible ticket purchased by or for an individual with a disability, an entity must allow the purchase of up to three other tickets for companion seats immediately adjacent to and in the same row as the wheelchair space, so long as there are three such seats available at the time of purchase. The additional seats may include wheelchair spaces.
If people are allowed to buy at least four tickets, and there are fewer than three such additional seat tickets available for purchase, a seller has to offer the next highest number of such seat tickets available for purchase and must make up the difference by offering tickets for sale for seats that are as close as possible to the accessible seats.
If ticket sales are limited to fewer than four seats per patron, then the obligation is to offer as many seats to buyers with disabilities, including the ticket for the wheelchair space, as would be offered to buyers without disabilities. If buyers are allowed to purchase more than four tickets, then buyers with disabilities must be allowed to purchase up to the same number of tickets, including the ticket for the wheelchair space.
If a group includes one or more people who need to use accessible seating because of a mobility disability, or because the disability requires the use of the accessible features that are provided in accessible seating, the group must be placed in a seating area with accessible seating so that, if possible, the group can sit together. If it is necessary to divide the group, it should be divided so that the people in the group who use wheelchairs are not isolated from the group.
Q: When can accessible seating be released for sale to people who don’t need accessible seating?
Tickets for accessible seating may be released for sale in certain limited circumstances. Unsold tickets for accessible seating may be released only under the following circumstances:
-When all non-accessible tickets (excluding luxury boxes, club boxes, or suites) in the venue have been sold out (the venue gets to define what “sold out” means);
-When all non-accessible tickets in a designated seating area have been sold out and the tickets for accessible seating in that same area may be released in the same designated area;
-When all non-accessible tickets in a designated price category have been sold out and the tickets for accessible seating in that designated price category may be released within the same designated price category
A facility is not required to release tickets for accessible seating to individuals without disabilities, but it may under the three categories above.
When series-of-events tickets are sold out, and the entity sells the accessible seats to people without disabilities for a series of events, the entity must establish a process by which those seats are not automatically reassigned to those ticket holders for future seasons or years. Individuals with disabilities who need accessible seating, and who become newly eligible to purchase tickets when these series-of-events tickets are available for purchase, must be given an opportunity to do so.
When series of events tickets with an ownership right in accessible seating areas are forfeited or otherwise returned to an entity, there must be a process in place so that individuals with mobility disabilities, or individuals with disabilities that require accessible seating, have the chance to purchase such tickets in accessible seating areas.
Q: What if I want to buy tickets for accessible seating and then want to transfer them to someone else?
Individuals with disabilities who hold tickets for accessible seating must be permitted to transfer tickets, meaning to give or sell, to third parties to the same extent as other individuals holding the same type of tickets, whether they are for a single event or a series of events.
Q: Do these ticketing rules apply to the secondary ticket market, too?
People with disabilities may use tickets purchased on the secondary ticket market under the same terms and conditions as other individuals who purchase tickets on the secondary market for the same event or series.
If a person with a disability gets a ticket to an inaccessible seat through the secondary market, the individual must be allowed to exchange the ticket for one to an accessible seat in a comparable location, if such a seat is available at the time the ticket is presented to the venue.
Q: Are hotel reservations covered by the ADA?
Yes. Individuals with disabilities must be able to make reservations for accessible guest rooms at a place of lodging during the same hours and in the same manner as others. This is true whether the reservation is made by telephone, in-person, or online through a website.
Q: How can I tell whether a certain room will meet my accessibility needs?
Places of lodging have to describe the accessible features of the facility and the guest rooms that are offered through the reservation system in enough detail that the person with a disability is able to assess whether it meets individual accessibility needs. Information, including photos or drawings, may be posted online or included in brochures. Staff members who provide customer service must know about the accessibility features so that they can answer questions about the features and accessible routes to and through the facility. Staff must be able to answer questions about the guest rooms and bathrooms, the availability of accessibility equipment such as bath benches or visual alert devices, and the accessibility of common areas such as meeting rooms, restaurants, bars, pools, business centers, and fitness centers.
Q: Can an accessible guest room be rented by a person who doesn’t need the accessible features?
Yes, but accessible guest rooms must be held for use by individuals with disabilities until all other guest rooms of that type have been rented. When a reservation is made for an accessible guest room, the specific accessible guest room reserved has to be held for that customer and the room must be removed from the reservation system.
Q: Do travel agents or online travel services have obligations regarding reservations?
Yes. Reservations made through travel agents or online travel services have to provide accessible rooms and must provide information about the accessible features of the facility and the rooms.
Q: Where is a service animal allowed to go?
Generally, a service animal is allowed to go wherever the person with the disability can go, meaning they can go wherever the public is allowed to go.
Q: What about a restaurant? Is it hygienic to allow service animals to go where people eat?
A place of public accommodation must modify its policies to allow a service animal to accompany an individual with a disability, unless it would result in a fundamental alteration or would jeopardize the safe operation of the public accommodation. In a restaurant, a service animal must be allowed to accompany the person with a disability in all areas that are open to other patrons.
Q: What about a hospital?
In a hospital, the same is true, except that there may be certain areas of the hospital where having a service animal could jeopardize safety, such as in the sterile environment of an operating room.
Q: Are there circumstances under which a person might have to remove a service animal, even if it meets the definition of a service animal?
Yes, but it’s rare. It’s all right to ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises if either the animal is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it, or the animal is not housebroken. What the regulations mean by the animal being “out of control” is that the animal must be under the individual’s control. It must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the individual is unable to use one of those because of the disability, and, if that’s the case, then the animal still has to be under some kind of control—like voice control or signals.
If an animal is properly excluded because the animal is out of control or is not housebroken, then the entity has to give the individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in the service, program, or activity, or enter the place of public accommodation, without having the service animal on the premises.
Q: If a service animal is on the premises, who is responsible for its care and supervision?
That’s an easy one. The person with the service animal is responsible for its care and supervision at all times. The entity is not responsible for the care or supervision of a service animal.
Q: Is it all right for a business or other entity to require documentation that shows the animal is a service animal?
Unless it is readily apparent that the animal is a service animal, then the entity may ask if the animal is required because of a disability. It is not, however, allowed to require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal.
Q: If an entity requires a pet deposit, or charge extra for people who have pets, do those fees apply to service animals too?
No. An entity cannot ask or require an individual with a disability to pay a surcharge, even if people accompanied by pets are required to pay fees, or to comply with other requirements generally not applicable to people without pets. If an entity normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.