update: my new office is full of dogs — and I’m allergic

Remember the letter-writer in July who was highly allergic to dogs and discovered that her new office was full of them? Here’s the update.

Right after I wrote to you, HR bought me a HEPA air purifier for my desk and announced that dogs had to be washed regularly to cut down on dander. I’m not sure how they planned to enforce it, but one woman who is very well liked announced that her dog had a skin condition that meant it couldn’t be washed often. HR told her that the dog couldn’t be in the office for “medical reasons,” and EVERYONE blamed me. People made comments to each other as I walked by about how I “discriminated” against a dog with a medical condition, how much I must hate dogs, how selfish I am. After a week, one person came into my cubicle where everyone could hear and demanded to know why I worked here when I clearly wasn’t a cultural fit. I had been ignoring the comments and trying to take the high road (was that the right move, Alison? Should I have confronted them right away?), but this was too much. I told her that I was a good fit – I had a strong background in teapot design and a passion for optimizing teapot handles. I reminded her of the times I had helped her brew new tea flavors above and beyond my job. I said that regardless of anything else, I’m here to help produce the best teapots and that I want us all to work as a team to achieve that.

Within 10 minutes, HR sent me an invite to meet with them, and when I arrived there were all three of our HR people – including the director – as well as our company’s lawyer! They wanted my statement on a “workplace incident” – they said that someone accused me of yelling at another employee. I hadn’t raised my voice at all; I was actually proud of how I calmly said those words and my voice didn’t even shake. I told them about the comments and how I was starting to feel like this was a hostile work environment based on my medical condition. The HR rep said that my allergies weren’t covered under ADA and that they wanted to help me work there because they liked me, but that one person was not worth damaging a strong company culture.

While this wasn’t entirely moral, I heavily implied that I’d consulted two lawyers who disagreed with her ADA assessment and that firing me could lead to a lawsuit. I didn’t talk to a lawyer; my comment was based off of the two lawyers who you quoted in your blog post. They decided to “reevaluate the situation,” and it was basically swept under the rug. I don’t know if they spoke to some of the people who made comments, but those stopped within a day.

I wish I could say it got better, but it didn’t. The company then announced that we were going from cubicles to an open floor plan to promote communication between teams. They banned dogs since we were in a temporary work space for three weeks as they ripped up the carpet and put in new desks. The day before we came back into the office, they sent around an email that said that dogs were no longer allowed due to 1) the open floor plan (no way to contain them) and 2) the new carpet (there had been so many accidents that the old carpet was smelly and gross) but that they had negotiated a discounted rate with the local doggie daycare. It’s normally $33/day, but they got the rate down to $22/day. People were up in arms – if this was the middle ages, there would have been pitchforks. They didn’t openly blame me and no explicit comments were made, so I thought it would be OK. I was wrong.

Instead of outright comments, it became subtle things. I was no longer invited to standing meetings and when I pointed that out it was explained away as an “oversight.” I was excluded from new meetings about teapot design that I was integral to and when I found out about them and asked, I was told that teapot handle design wasn’t changing (but it did in the mockups – someone else was doing my job!). If I sat at a table at lunch, everyone at that table was suddenly not hungry and would leave. I would go home and cry; it was like being in high school, but when I brought it up to my boss, she explained that they were oversights or mistakes and that I was blowing things out of proportion. She seemed so sincere and I felt like she was really trying to support me. I felt like I WAS blowing things out of proportion.

One day I was in a bathroom stall, and I heard my boss and two other coworkers enter. They loudly talked about me, about how my boss was looking for a replacement for me, and how I would be gone soon anyway and then they would petition for the dogs to come back. My boss then said “(CEO) didn’t like the smell of the carpet after dogs had accidents and there was that flea problem last year, so even when is gone it won’t happen, but she ruined a great situation and I want her gone for that reason alone” and then they all laughed. Before any of you ask – it’s illegal to record someone without their knowledge in my state, so I didn’t pull out my cell phone, but I did note the names of the people. My close friend (and one of my only supporters) was also in the bathroom and agreed that if needed, she would testify on record about overhearing that conversation.

I did mention in the comments that my mother was terminal, which is why I didn’t feel I could move to another city with more job opportunities. Throughout the past few months, I’ve been searching but I was having problems answering “why are you leaving your current job so soon?” Eventually, I told one hiring manager the truth and he confided that he is also severely allergic to dogs and that it would never happen at his company (a small start-up). He offered me the job the next day. It was a slight pay decrease, but included stock options and surprisingly better health benefits! I took it and started a week later.

I was so upset about the whole situation that I called a meeting with the company lawyer, HR department, and my boss. I gave notice, saying I was leaving immediately with no transition period due to the hostile work environment. I reported what my boss had said and named the people who were also in the bathroom. When she tried to deny it, I told her I had a witness willing to corroborate everything and she then claimed that I was taking her words “out of context.” At this point, HR and the lawyer asked her to leave the room. I told them that if there were any issue with my paycheck or backlash against me (including defamation), I would bring a lawsuit. We agreed to what they would say if they were contacted as a reference in the future, I got it in writing (!!), they cut the check within minutes, and I left right away. I’ve only been at the new job a few weeks, but it’s a great environment so far and I have high hopes.

There were many questions about why I didn’t see the dogs when I was interviewing. My interviews took place in the front conference room directly off of reception. I was never anywhere near the cubicle farm to see any dogs. A few people also said that if it were their company, they would see it as unfair to lose the dog benefit. I hate to take those comments personally, but it had the ring of “blame the victim.” Maybe I’m bitter, but your “right” to have your dog lay next to you while you fiddle away at your computer does not trump my right to breathe. This wasn’t just a discomfort; if I’d missed a dose of medication or grew more sensitive over time (which my doctor said was happening), I could have had a massive reaction that could have caused serious damage or death. I think many of the readers – and my coworkers – ignored that.

Thank you to your readers who gave their support, to the two lawyers who gave me free legal opinions, and especially to you for doing the research and giving me the information I needed to get out of that bad situation. I don’t know what would have happened in that first meeting with the lawyer and HR if I hadn’t had that information. I’m still very angry about the whole situation, but I’m trying to let it go and move on.

{ 817 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. aphrael

    The people at your old company are batshit crazy. Good for you for standing up for yourself and getting out of there.

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      1. Liane

        More Jedi hugs!
        Glad you are out of there and into a much better job.

        I love-love-love dogs, but they don’t belong at most workplaces and your allergy trumps everything else.

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    1. BTownGirl

      Cosign! I really take my hat off to how you handled this, OP. Your now-former (praise be!) coworkers are NUTS. My dog is an English Bulldog and I never brought him in when I worked for a company that had occasional Bring Your Dog To Work Days, because he pants really loudly and makes weird snorting noises (they are adorable to me and me alone haha!) and I figured that could be really distracting. I’m pretty sure that’s what rational people do. Congratulations on your new position and best wishes!! :)

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    2. K.

      Amen. Batshit crazy is exactly the phrase that sprang to mind when I read this. OP, you should be proud of the way you had your own back, and congratulations on the new job!

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    3. Nighthawk

      Dogs don’t belong in an office. If you want to hang out with your dog, you should work from home. If you can’t work from home, find a job that will let you do so!

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        1. Green

          Most of the dog-friendly offices I know of are animal shelters, animal welfare or environmental organizations, veterinarian offices, dog boarding places, companies related to animal products, or otherwise somehow connected to animals. So a good chunk of those should be self-selecting for people who don’t like animals, are scared of animals, or are allergic to animals. But, yes, I don’t really “get it” for businesses not related to animals or pets.

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      1. sarah_jwh

        I bring my dog to the office to help with anxiety. She stays locked in my office and mostly sleeps. I’ve worried about changing jobs and have stayed at a lower paying position that lets me keep her with me, even though I barely make ends meet and am qualified to work a higher paying job. She’s super well behaved (only occasionally barks at the mailman) weighs a whopping 4 lbs and gets bathed and combed weekly. We’ve never had an accident or fleas. Since I started bringing her to work with me my panic attacks have decreased dramatically. (2 in the past year! as opposed to weekly)

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        1. KellyK

          While she seems like an emotional support animal rather than a service animal, it’s still possible that having her with you would be considered a reasonable accommodation for a disability.

          So I wouldn’t avoid looking for better paying jobs, but ask about bringing the dog during the interview process. There will be places where it’s not workable for whatever reason (like open floor plans and coworkers with allergies), but there should be some where it’s doable. Especially if you have options to move up at your current job, where they know both your work and your dog.

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          1. KellyK

            That is, during the interview process, ask if bringing the dog to work sounds like something they could accommodate, not ask if you can bring the dog to the interview.

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        2. stiveee

          This actually sounds like a reasonable accommodation for an anxiety disorder, and I most think people with allergies, including the OP, would completely understand (her situation is very different from what you’re describing). A lot of people with PTSD have dogs to keep them calm or guide them to safety when they’re mid-panic attack, since these attacks can cause a lot of dangerous physical symptoms and even make you pass out if you’re not careful to breathe.

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    4. Van Wilder

      Between the accidents and the fleas, I can’t believe they still think it’s not crazy to have dogs there, even if they don’t care about your ability to breathe. These people seem to have no concept of what an office is and I’m really sorry they were so cruel to you. Your boss especially! She should be ashamed of acting like a high school mean girl.

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      1. Charlotte Lucas

        Based on the description of the carpets and fleas, I’m getting the impression that these were not exactly clean, well-behaved dogs. But I’m getting that impression about the OP’s old CWs, too…

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          1. Natalie

            Given how some of them behaved, I wonder how many people weren’t thrilled with the dogs but decided they needed to keep their opinions quiet for fear of being ostracized. :|

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    5. WorkingMom

      Wow! I am so impressed with how you handled leaving, getting everything in writing, etc. I’m so sorry that you went through all of that – it sounds incredibly awful. But glad it’s in the past and that you stood up for yourself – and did so in a fantastic way. You rock – way to go!

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      1. Florida

        Great job OP. It was a crappy situation all-around, but it sounds like you handled it like a champ.
        Thanks for reporting back, and best wishes at the new, great, dog-free job.

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    6. Adam

      I love dogs but these people are seriously self-absorbed rotten asses. I was thinking at first there was sever communication breakdown about the situation that if rectified could smooth things over, but as I continued on I thought nothing could get these people to see reason.

      Also add this to one of the few but awesome times where honestly answering the “Why are you leaving your current job?” question worked in your favor. So glad OP got out of that pit.

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      1. Jeanne

        You said what I was thinking. What a bunch of asses. And to know that the people who brought the dogs didn’t even care to keep the carpet clean and the office smelling decently. Awful.

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        1. Mabel

          I know! I’m surprised that places that allow dogs even have carpet. I used to walk by a doggie day care on my way to work, and it was great to stop for a minute and watch the dogs play. However, they had carpet, and it got so you could smell the place from a block away. They finally ripped out the carpet and put in a special rubber floor that hoses down and doesn’t smell.

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    7. Victoria, Please

      Agree with the batshit crazy! So glad you are out of there and I hope you can find peace and calm as time goes by.

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    8. neverjaunty

      Cannot agree more with this comment. There are dog people, and then there are people who use their dogs as an amplifier for their own scummy, wackadoo behavior. Good on you for getting out, OP.

      P.S.: I don’t think there was anything wrong with telling them you’d talked to lawyers. Screw these guys.

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      1. Diana

        There are dog people, and then there are people who use their dogs as an amplifier for their own scummy, wackadoo behavior.

        Neverjaunty has this completely right. OP I’m so sorry this played out the way it did. It’s one thing to allow dogs in the office (with proper restrictions etc) but when you have someone like yourself with serious health issues related to it, it should have been a no brainer. Your old coworkers were horrible people.

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      2. the gold digger

        there are people who use their dogs as an amplifier for their own scummy, wackadoo behavior.

        I am definitely a cat person, but the cats are not allowed in the guest room or the living and dining room because we do have friends who are allergic and want to maintain a place where our friends can be.

        Even for non-allergic friends, if the cats are bugging our guests, the cats go into the basement. I love my cats, but people come first.

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        1. Revanche

          Dogs trump people for me *generally* but if I actually invited them to come stay, hell yes, the dog isn’t allowed to bother them. We maintain one dog-free zone even in our tiny place for that purpose.

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        2. DMented Kitty

          I’m thankful none of our guests are allergic to cats, but if they are I would keep them in a room when they visit. But if it’s really severe that they can’t even stand to be in a room where a cat has touched (which our house really has had the run of our cats), I’m not sure what else I can do (I can’t totally de-cat our entire house) but probably suggest different alternatives they are comfortable with. :/

          But jeez, LW’s ex-coworkers are just… wow. If the place is known for its dog-friendly environment management should be thoughtful enough to mention it to potential new hires because allergies are a real thing and can be a deal-breaker for people. I’m guessing these same people think of people with allergies as just “drama” and they need to “get over it”.

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      3. Mabel

        There are dog people, and then there are people who use their dogs as an amplifier for their own scummy, wackadoo behavior.

        This!

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    9. Koko

      Yes, congratulations on your escape OP! What they put you through was so awful. I can’t imagine what a toll it takes on your well-being to have to work in such an environment every day.

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    10. Kelly

      Good for you on getting out of that place. I’m an animal person who prefers cats to dogs, but I would never dream of bringing my rather special cat to work.

      My parents have a dog and multiple cats. As a result, my mother vacuums daily and wants to get rid of all the carpeting in the house because of how much pet odor gets absorbed. We went to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving, leaving the dog at home because of a previous visit that had him doing some interior redecoration of her house. He’s also not at his best around other dogs, which there would be at my aunt’s home, including an overly aggressive Pomeranian. There was also two medium sized dogs which were better behaved. When we got home, my mom, my sister and myself all had eyes that were watery because of all the dog dander. I don’t know whether it was because all the dogs were longer haired, my aunt’s housekeeping, or if it was because we were around dogs whom we weren’t accustomed to being around. It could a have been a combination of the three. That’s part of the reason why I’m not a fan of dogs in the workplace.

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      1. Koko

        The vacuuming thing is legit. I’ve conducted inadvertent experiments and determined that when I don’t vacuum for more than 2-3 days my allergies start to go haywire (cat owner with late-onset cat allergy). A good vacuum with built-in HEPA filter used regularly and a full-room HEPA unit run continuously for good measure is pretty good inoculation against allergies.

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    11. Jazzy Red

      When I got down to your last couple of paragraphs, I was cheering for your courage in standing up to all these bullies! Hooray for you!!

      I’m just as allergic as you are, but to cats. I **love** cats, and it’s always made me sad that I couldn’t be around them. As time goes on, my reactions get worse. It has certainly taught me to be respectful of others’ allergies.

      Again, kudos to you for giving them hell!

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  2. Anna

    What on God’s green earth…?! They’re a litigation case waiting to happen. I love the dogs in my office, but this is so absurd!

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    1. Jeanne

      In the end, OP was very restrained. Others might have sued immediately. And I don’t even believe in suing away all your problems but these people are amazingly awful.

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  3. AMG

    You are a Rock Star. Anyone who thinks their dog trumps your right to breathe is nuts. I even remember some people saying that if they had to choose their dog over the life of a stranger’s child, they would choose the dog. People are just crazy. Glad you stood up for yourself.

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      1. Blurgle

        Why are you so surprised? There zre people who loudly trump their “right” to send peanut butter – one food out of what, 10,000? – to school with their kids. Generally because they think allergies are fake lying attention-getting behaviour on the part of crazy neurotic mom. Either that or “the child should just die so we aren’t minorly inconvenienced” <– the George Carlin answer.

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        1. New Commenter

          I have also heard the argument that people with allergic children should “exercise personal responsibility” and keep their children away from “normal” people so that others aren’t inconvenienced. :(

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          1. Kaitlin

            I have a severe peanut allergy and these blanket peanut bans in schools are actually detrimental because they don’t teach kids vital allergy management skills, which they need later in life. Their college campus isn’t going to ban peanut butter and nutella for them. A workplace won’t ban people from eating a PBJ in the lunch room. People with allergies do need to learn to navigate in a world where people will be eating those things. As an adult, you might need to get up and move while people eat, because your allergy doesn’t trump the right of your 10 colleagues to eat their lunch or the right of a colleague to eat the nutella cupcake someone brought in for her birthday.

            My pediatrician actually told my parents it was in my best interests as a child not to have my school blanket ban peanuts and as an adult, I think I have benefitted from this. I now know 20 year olds who can’t ‘handle’ their allergy because they were mollycoddled as children.

            It is actually IMPORTANT for allergic children to learn some responsibility towards looking after themselves with their allergy because the grown up world isn’t going to tiptoe around it for them.

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            1. Jules the First

              Thank you for being brave enough to say this, Kaitlin!

              Personally, peanuts are fine but corn is sooooooo not – a trip to the movies requires special clothing, antihistamines, my inhaler, and, just in case, my epi pen. But while I patronise the one popcorn-free theatre I’ve found when I can, I’m not going to demand they all ban popcorn because I want to see the latest blockbuster.

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            2. Tara R.

              But I think there’s a drastic difference between learning those skills at 10, maybe even 9, and learning them at 4 or 5. Because the fact is that 5 year olds just plain don’t have the knowledge and the reasoning skills to “take responsibility” for their own allergies. That’s up to the adults looking after them to keep them safe, and if a blanket ban is the way to do that, then a blanket ban it is.

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              1. Jules

                I beg to differ. My daughter and her classmates (4 year olds) knows each other’s food restrictions. Their school have a picture up with a list of allergies and as they eat together every day, they know what which kid can’t eat. Kids are nosey and don’t have filters, if they see you not eating something that they are eating, they would ask and take note.

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                1. KellyK

                  I don’t think you can jump from kids knowing the basics of their classmates’ allergies to a four-year-old being expected to navigate a situation with airborne allergens. Just knowing that “Bobby is allergic to peanuts” isn’t the same as knowing that that includes peanut butter, and that Susie’s mom’s homemade Rice Krispy treats are a couple shades darker than plain Rice Krispy treats, so they might have peanut butter in them. Or knowing how far away Bobby has to sit from Susie to be safe, or when he needs to go tell the teacher he needs his Epi-Pen.

            3. LadyCop

              I also read about a very interesting peanut study that made a great argument for children needing to know what it tastes like so they can avoid it. Long story short, they took children with the highest sensitivities and slowly increased their daily “dose” of peanuts. I realize not all foods are as distinct, but it makes sense to prepare them for not only looking out for themselves, but not living in fear of everything around them. Also, hate to break it to Blurgle, but peanut butter and peanuts aren’t just one food out of 10,000…they’re in many foods out there and hard to avoid.

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            4. Biff

              Actually, PBJ being banned at work has been a discussion around here, and I’m thinking I worked at a place with that ban in place. (I’m not a fan, so it wasn’t an issue.)

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    1. Marcela

      You are oversimplifying what was said in that thread. I know because I said something which could be reduced to what you just said, but only if you are willing to think the worst about people you really don’t know and reduce a super complicated situation to black and white.

      And btw, I really hate when in topics like this, all the value seems to be placed in children. I am not valuable (can I use this word for people?) because I am somebody’s child: I am valuable because I am a person, and the same is true for everybody.

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      1. Observer

        The point is not “the children” but the idea that your dog trumps the life of a human being, unless that human being is closely related to you.

        Before you jump down my throat, I’m using the word “you” in the generic sense, not about you.

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      2. AMG

        The point is that all people are valuable. While I don’t remember you in particular, it’s a pretty accurate description of what was being said. If that paints someone in a bad light, they should not post it.

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        1. Marcela

          I don’t remember anybody saying that in _any_ situation where a person’s life and a pet’s life are in danger and they can only rescue one, they would choose their pet’s. That is something so utterly ridiculous that I don’t think there is anybody in this great community who can truly believe it.

          That is what I meant with oversimplification. Nobody said that, because it’s a very general statement not related at all with the situation at hand. I said that in a very particular situation, I would absolutely be more worried about my pet than a specific person, and I would do anything in my power to save it. And I was painted as a monster who should be prosecuted and who obviously forgot she is someone’s child (as if being my mom’s child mattered more than being my husband’s wife).

          Having said that, OP, I am glad you left that nutcase. The company caused this mess because their irrational and irresponsible behavior. There was no reason to do this respectfully for your well being and your former coworkers ‘perks. It’s specially bad for me that the CEO didn’t address the problem with the accidents on the carpet (and truly, ewww to those people) until you came, so he could deflect the blame to you.

          Reply
          1. AMG

            The thread is still available. People can read it and discern for themselves. If you didn’t post it, then I’m not sure why you keep re-explaining what you did say. Nobody here–including me–is calling you a monster.

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                1. Green

                  You can think that all you want, but the AAM standard is to treat this as a community and disagree without personally insulting other commenters.

            1. Marcela

              I did it because I feel this is a fair discussion to have, to truly try to understand the complicated reasons behind short statements like our comments, before judging somebody as crazy, for example. But somehow along these couple of days, I’ve come to realize this is a double painful matter to me*, so perhaps I’m not actually ready to discuss it, although I believe it’s a great thing that I now recognize my pain.

              * It’s painful because on one side, my mom loves to describe me as her child, not in the general sense as you probably used it, but as if that’s the only thing I am (negating the other aspects of my personality). Every time she can, she tells me how people tell her we are just two peas in a pod, while I believe we couldn’t be more different if we tried and I honestly don’t want to be like her.

              On the other side, many times my father has treated my pet’s deaths or illnesses as if they don’t matter. Telling me I should not spend money trying to save them or telling me that why I’m crying for my dear Coloto, since there are other identical cats out there.

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              1. AMG

                Alison, I know you wanted to move on from this, but this is really important. As someone who also can from an abusive at time home, I really sympathize with you. My heart hurt reading this. Pets are family. They are unconditionally loving and that bond is real. There is nothing crazy about it. I’m transitioning to vegan, and I love my pets. Sincerely love them. They are better than most people.

                I guess my stance on this comes from having so many people in my life who have committed suicide, or who treats the animals wonderfully but own child, not so much.

                It isn’t my intent to debase you or your experiences in any way. I have had so much loss and the thought of another person being tossed away as irrelevant but fawning over the dog really bothers me. That’s where I’m coming from. It’s not meant to hurt you. In my life it was a fundamental profound flaw to think the way people did. I stand by it. Animals are gifts from God. People have so much beauty and potential too, and neither should be cast aside.

                Again, I’m sorry if my words hurt you.

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      3. BananaPants

        I don’t remember yours specifically, so this isn’t personal, but there’s really no other way to interpret this sort of comment other than feeling that a pet dog’s presence in the workplace is more important than a human being’s health (or even life).

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        1. Zillah

          There are people who will even make that argument about food or other allergies – I’ve seen people argue that it’s their right to eat whatever food they’d like at work, and to hell with people with allergies. It’s such a shitty attitude.

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    2. Green

      It’s really unfair to other commenters to belittle them and call them nuts and crazy. If I had to choose between the life of a living, breathing creature with an emotional life *who I accepted responsibility for* and the life of a living, breathing creature with an emotional life *that you had accepted responsibility for* I would have a hard time choosing. No, I don’t hate your kids. But I really love my dogs.
      That’s not at all the same as saying I would choose my preference to have my dog next to me over the OP’s health.

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      1. AMG

        Calling someone nuts is nowhere near as bad as implying as their dog is more important than a person. I love my dog. I do. But he isn’t more important than any person. To believe otherwise is insane. Disagree if you must, but that’s my opinion.

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          1. AMG

            Done, Alison, and thank you. For the record, I was not ignoring you. I was multitasking and hadn’t refreshed before switching back. :)

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      2. Kaitlin

        I think the problem is that the dog office was not communicated to you at any point during the hiring/accepting process.

        Many people would have accepted their job on the basis that they could have their dog with them at work, and to lose that because someone else wandered in and wanted to change the workplace culture seems unfair.

        So for me, the problem is that it was not communicated at all when being hired.

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    3. fposte

      One of the things I like about AAM is that we generally let disagreements stay within the post and don’t drag them into subsequent posts. I would hate to lose that.

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    4. Kaitlin

      A lot of people consider their pets to be be family and would choose to save their own family before a stranger’s family. I’m not saying it is right, just pointing out that to many people, dogs are family.

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      1. Cactus

        Thanks, Kaitlin. I was reading some other comments on this and thinking that I really could not see myself allowing my cat to die to save someone else…(and not being sure why that was crazy). Maybe I would make a different decision “in the moment,” I don’t know. But you’ve kind of outlined the why: pets are family.

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    5. Oh, I'll Answer The Phones.

      Well yeah, but my pet is like MY child… just saying, it’s not beyond reasoning, just because you don’t like the reasoning.

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    1. Adonday Veeah

      I am also glad you got a new job, but I’m sorry you had to in order to be treated fairly, and, oh yeah, to breathe.

      Reply
  4. Katie the Fed

    Wow. This is just effing INSANE. Discriminating against a dog’s medical condition?

    I’m glad you found another job – it sounds like it really was a junior high environment and you were just not fitting in – through no fault of your own. What a nightmare.

    Also, the first rule of talking trash in the bathroom is checking the stalls, FFS.

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      1. Katie the Fed

        My poor dog has been booted out of the bed permanently because she encroaches and makes us sleep in weird positions. She looks so pitiful in her kennel we like to sing Sarah McLachlan (from the ASPCA commercials) at her. This is probably terrible discrimination.

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        1. Imperatrice

          My sister’s dog has perfected that pitiful look. We call it her Sarah McLachlan face. Every time she does it, we do the narration from the commercials – “For just pennies a day, you could help this dog eat off her owner’s plate.”

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          1. Katie the Fed

            Yes! For a dollar a day, this dog can experience her very own queen-sized bed covered in flannel sheets and a down comforter. Just a dollar a day.

            Reply
            1. Klem

              Ha!! Lol! Mine has what I call the Pitiful Orphan face, like those paintings from the ’60’s of little children with huge eyes and sad expressions – does anybody remember those? It’s truly hilarious to see her eyes go all round and her ears lie down. When she cocks her head, I laugh out loud!

              Reply
          2. Dynamic Beige

            This needs a website… like those dog-shaming ones. “For just pennies a day… you could help this dog eat all the Lego they want.”

            Reply
            1. De Minimis

              I’m glad I’m not the only dog owner who does this. We do it when ours are begging for food. “Won’t you help these starving dogs today?”

              Reply
        2. Cat

          I don’t even want to know what my cat would say if you asked her what kind of discrimination I was perpetuating against her.

          Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            I am fairly sure that if our cat had thumbs, she’d be regularly calling the humane society to complain that our failure to provide her with the exact flavor of wet food she likes at all times is animal abuse.

            Reply
          2. Tamsin

            My cat glares at me as though I’ve committed a great crime against cat-kind whenever I dare to re-enter the apartment if I’ve forgotten something after leaving for work. I *think* all I’m ever interrupting is her morning snooze.

            Reply
          3. Laura

            My refusal to turn on my cats’ laser toy whenever they want me to is CLEARLY violating some kind of feline rights code.

            Reply
              1. Elizabeth

                Ha- my friends (then) kitten figured out how to turn on her laser toy herself, usually by launching herself at it. Which my friend found out one day while working at home.

                Reply
        3. Anlyn

          My dog does what I call her “starving puppy routine”. She’ll go to her empty food bowl, look at me sadly, then put one paw in it and start licking the bottom.

          Reply
          1. simonthegrey

            My cat will look at the plate (they get wet food once a day, split a can between the pair of cats because they would be fat otherwise) to see that it is empty. Then he walks to the kibble bowl, uses a claw to pull out one kibble, stares at me, and then eats the kibble while staring. One kibble at a time. As if he is starving. He’s a huge jerk.

            Reply
          2. Ezri

            Our dieting kitty will lick his food bowl between his scheduled feedings. It’s pitiful, but then I remember that extra food results in overeating and kitty vomit, which is less pitiful.

            Reply
        4. The Optimizer

          Every time we disappoint our incredibly spoiled dog, we always say he’s going to call Sarah on us! You know, like today when the two walks he gets every single day no matter the weather (and has for 7+ years) will be very short because it’s really cold and windy and my husband and I are sick or when we don’t give him things like chocolate.

          Saraahhhhh!!!!

          Reply
        1. INFJ

          So crazy. Just goes to show how selfish/entitled these coworkers were. The only reason they were upset was that there were suddenly restrictions on their dog at work perk. They knew full well that OP wasn’t discriminating against the dog, but it was “her fault” (again, not really, but in their twisted logic..) so they had to make her out to be the bad guy.

          Reply
        2. coffee powerrd

          In my opinion it’s pretty easy to dismiss people like OP’s coworkers…for being ignorant about what an allergy is, what an allergic reaction is, and how it can be fatal. Spoiler: foreign proteins react with the body’s immunity (IgE) cells (upon a recurrent exposure) in the heart and elsewhere and cause a massive inflammation response as the body mobilizes to attack these “invaders.” Inflammation leads to swelling of all the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system (which are responsible for moving blood and oxygen through the body). Poor circulation of blood, especially to the brain, major organs, coupled with low % oxygen saturation of said blood is a recipes for serious injury or death.

          It’s my guess that nobody in that office has ever had a severe allergic reaction to anything.

          Reply
          1. CMart

            I’m not Come On Eileen, but I’ve generally taken the sarcastic “#all__matter” to be mocking the popular hastag of “#alllivesmatter”, a misguided and often racist backlash against Black Lives Matter that I’m sure you’re familiar with, rather than mocking BLM.

            Reply
    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      Yes, exactly. OP, they were just plain WRONG and I am so glad you are out of there and working for someone sensible. I shall send vengeful vibes that they all quietly flounder in their own flea infested, dog mess hell of their creating.

      Reply
        1. Jennifer

          The dogs are probably back and the poster’s leaving brought on a giant party, probably.

          But hey, she’s better off, and I hope they warn all new employees that the allergic need not apply next time.

          Reply
    2. INTP

      It’s totally insane but…the sadder part…none of it surprised me. I totally know people like this. Enough of them that the whole slow ostricization due to ruining their fun the OP described is exactly what I expected when I read the initial letter.

      Reply
        1. mander

          Except that the OP managed to get out, and with all the bases covered!

          What nasty people they were. I’m glad you got away from them, OP.

          Reply
      1. AMG

        Someone else made a comment about selfishness…I think that’s right. I think some people are so self-absorbed that they don’t even understand why this is wrong. Thinking OP is being selfish…projection much?

        Reply
    3. Collarbone High

      “Discriminated against a dog with a medical condition” is one of the funniest/looniest phrases to ever appear on AAM.

      Reply
    4. stellanor

      I think the problem was more that the office was full of assholes than that the office was full of dogs. Eliminating the asshole problem would have allowed the dog thing to get resolved.

      Also I work in a dog-friendly office and bring my dog to the office, and I find the idea of dogs ruining the office carpet shocking and appalling. The first rule of office dogs is NO PEEING ON THE FLOOR.

      Reply
    1. Amanda

      That grossed me out, too. I have a dog. I work in a dog-friendly-ish office (no official rules; people bring dogs in infrequently). My dog doesn’t come to the office because her stranger-danger mentality would be too much of a disruption to everyone else.

      But the dogs who do come to the office? Don’t pee on the carpet.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Lucas

        But the dogs who do come to the office? Don’t pee on the carpet.

        I think this is an excellent rule for all who come to the office… Or really anywhere with a carpet.

        Reply
        1. INTP

          Right? It would be unthinkable for someone to allow an inconsistently continent human crawl around the office with no diaper on. It should be similarly unthinkable for any other animal.

          Reply
      2. neverjaunty

        Right? These are the kind of people who are horrible pet owners, because they are not willing to socialize their dogs to be good companions to humans. You know, the ones who say “she’s never done this before!” the 3,294th time their dog bites somebody.

        Reply
    2. MashaKasha

      I know right? I LOVELOVELOVE dogs, and have no allergies to anything (knock on wood), but I would not last five minutes in a place that reeks of stale dog urine! That would kick my migraine into overdrive, but mainly, it’s just gross.

      Also, fleas? My bf’s formerly outdoor cat had them last summer (that’s why he’s no longer an outdoor cat). I’d go visit him and then come home covered in flea bites. The bites itched terribly, I had to carry a tub of Benadryl cream with me at all times, and as soon as the bites would start healing, I’d go visit him again and get a fresh batch. Not cool! Who would put themselves in this situation at work? Not only that, but knowingly bringing your dogs into an office that has “that flea problem”? Who would do this to their dog? OP, are your former coworkers sure they’re dog people? (Not that you should ask them – a rhetorical question!)

      There are so many things wrong with that office, it’s making my head spin!

      Reply
      1. Karowen

        That part is throwing me off as well! If your place of work has a flea problem, you must put a TON of trust in your dog’s flea medication to keep bringing him in.

        Reply
        1. KTB

          My dog has allergies, and our vet once told us that if she contracted fleas, it would be like “pouring gasoline on a fire.” For that reason alone, I would likely NOT have taken advantage of this weirdo company’s supposed perk.

          Also, if they weren’t also regularly shampooing the carpet after the “accidents,” there’s a reason they kept happening. So gross.

          Reply
          1. UK Nerd

            I’m allergic to fleas. I can’t take benedryl for it because I’m already permanently on benedryl for everything else I’m allergic to. The one time we had fleas in the house I practically scratched my ankles off. Fleas in the office? I’m not coming back until they’re gone. And even then I’m tucking my trousers into my socks.

            I’m itching just thinking about it.

            Reply
          2. MashaKasha

            The last point crossed my mind too! You cannot have one dog mark a spot, do nothing about it, and expect all the other dogs in the building not to go and mark that same spot repeatedly. That’s not how dogs work! Do these people even know how to dog?

            My dog, who passed away this summer, had low thyroid function and a heart disease. During the last year of his life, he had to take five different meds every day. No way would I have exposed him to fleas on top of all that!

            Reply
            1. MashaKasha

              PS. Re boyfriend’s cat having fleas, yes I did check immediately to find out if fleas could be transferred from cat to human and then from human to dog; i.e. if there was any danger of me giving his cat’s fleas to my dog. That was the first thing I freaked out about when I first came home from his place with flea bites! (the answer I got was no, that’s not possible. Whew!)

              Reply
      2. Honeybee

        My dog had fleas once. I kicked into OVERDRIVE getting rid of those things. I wouldn’t even let her jump on people or play with other dogs until I’d used the flea repellent for the full 12 hours. I would never let her around anyone else with fleas, much less bring her to work when she could spread them!

        I felt so bad for my poor puppy, I can’t imagine letting her have them for an extended period of time without treatment. She was so itchy.

        Reply
    3. INTP

      That is the craziest part. Like they’re so far into their dogs-are-the-center-of-the-universe reality vortex that they’ve lost their normal aversions to bodily waste. I bet if someone let their kid run around with no pants on and pee in the floor, they would have voted unanimously to ban children without any worries about those children’s disabilities. But because it’s DOGS that urinated, you should just feel blessed that the holy beings saw fit to anoint your humble human surroundings with their precious fluids!

      Reply
    4. Anon Accountant

      That’s one of the first things I’d wondered in the first post. Do the dogs have accidents? Is the carpet cleaned regularly? How does it not smell really bad in there?

      Reply
  5. Pretend Scientist

    Unbelievable!!! What nasty people….especially since they could have disclosed the dog issue up front, and OP could have decided to take herself out of the running.

    Reply
    1. JMegan

      Seriously. This problem could so easily have been avoided from the start, by disclosing their dog-friendly culture during the interview process.

      OP, I’m glad to hear you’re out of there, and apparently working with normal people who appreciate you and who treat you well. You deserve nothing less.

      Reply
    2. Ad Astra

      That detail still haunts me. How on earth do you omit the fact that your office is full of dogs when you’re interviewing candidates? It would have let someone with severe allergies (or a dog phobia) make an informed decision, and it would have been a huge selling point for someone who actually wanted to work with dogs in the office. “Is your office full of dogs?” isn’t a question most candidates would think to ask, so you kinda have to expect companies to disclose something like that up front.

      Reply
      1. Kassy

        If I were OP, you better believe that question would be part of my interviewing SOP for as long as I continued working.

        Reply
      2. Person of Interest

        When interviewing, I usually ask something like “Tell me about your organization’s culture,” because I’ve come from some crazy org culture situations (good and bad) and it’s a good way to dig into the reality, especially if you have a day where you interview with different roles/teams throughout the day – ask them ALL that question and see what pops. This might be a way to get at something as significant as the dogs were in this particular office, that a candidate would want to know about in advance.

        But I agree, in this case particularly, that the onus should have been on the interviewers to raise this so candidates could self-screen out if dogs are a problem.

        Reply
        1. snuck

          Agree. The dog thing is different enough from the norm that it should be mentioned.

          And like discussed in the threads of yesterday’s post… even if it’s a disability organisation where dogs can be present… I’d still say “Just letting you know – this is a dog friendly environment are you ok with that?” around the same time you say “We generally all take a break on Friday’s for a coffee and cake, I hope you join us and get the chance to know us better.

          Reply
      3. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

        I think a lot of people don’t consider dog allergies at all. I used to work at an educational facility (K-12) where employees regularly brought their dogs in for some strange reason. I mentioned something about someone bringing their cat in for a visit, and someone else in the group looked at me in shock and exclaimed, “You can’t do that! There are people who are allergic to cats!”

        I looked her in the eye and said, “I’m very allergic to dogs and no one seems to mind others bringing their dogs in all of the time. Don’t you think kids can be allergic to dogs, too?”

        A few others who also looked outraged at the thought of a cat in a carrier brought in for others to “meet” started to look a bit uncomfortable at that, too, and said that they had seriously never considered that people have dog allergies. They thought I was afraid of dogs or something, because I’d immediately leave the area when a dog came in, and if one came into my office, I’d ask for it to be removed.

        (Also, I refuse to clean up after other people’s dogs when they pee or worse on the carpet or floor in front of me. This happened to me twice with two different colleagues’ dogs. The coworkers were nowhere to be seen and their dogs were running around the building loose. One peed on the carpet in my office right after it had just been installed, so I marched into the owner’s office (halfway down the hall) and told him what his dog did. He looked at me and asked me if I cleaned it up. Ummmm…no, and I won’t. His assistant actually came in and did it instead.)

        Reply
        1. JMegan

          Wow. I hope the next thing the assistant did was to turn in her (?) resignation. Some people’s children, honestly.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            We had an untouchable employee foisted on us (a relative of the CEO ) who insisted on bringing her dog in to work and then didn’t take care of the pee pads/curb pads in her office when the dog used them. The janitors refused to deal with it and the Director’s AA endedup doing it.

            I have never understood people who abuse their connections to get jobs and then abuse their co-workers. And she I am embarrassed to say was a flaming liberal — but one who treated people like dirt. Total hypocrite.

            Reply
            1. GOG11

              Uggghhhhggggghhhh. I’m an AA and my job is pretty much doing and dealing with crap nobody else wants to do. I can’t imagine LITERALLY having to deal with crap. Nope!

              Reply
          2. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

            She didn’t. They had known each other for a long time, and when he was later ousted for not doing his job (i.e., not actually being able to do the tasks required due to refusal to learn how to use a computer), she left with him. Honestly, she had been doing his job for him for years at that point and they just figured it out, but she was definitely not getting even near the pay he was. I never did understand why she was so loyal to him. This was not years and years ago either–within the past two to three years.

            Reply
        2. maggiethecat

          Oh no! This is my mom :) She frequently brings our family dog(s) into her Elem. class. I never thought it was odd, or really thought about it at all. Our oldest dog is HUGE and the children like to practice reading to her.

          Reply
            1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

              One of my coworkers had the best trained dog I’ve ever seen in my life. I loved that dog, and I was always sad I couldn’t give her “good girl” pats and belly rubs or play ball with her outside. She only came in during the summer or breaks, though, and she never strayed away from her mom. I called her Princess X because she was so regal, calm, and stately about everything she did (except when she played ball or Frisbee outside with her mom, because then she was a zany dog all the way around).

              Reply
        3. JB (not in Houston)

          Yeah, I regularly see people bringing non-service dogs (or what don’t appear to be service dogs, at least) in with them to grocery stores and clothing stores, and I’m quite allergic. I don’t appreciate it at all.

          Of course, I also get mad when I see dogs left in cars for long periods of time in bad weather. It’s dangerous for the poor dogs! I am always tempted to imitate the mom from Malcolm in the Middle and start yelling, “WHOSE DAMN DOG IS THIS?” at the top of my lungs. I get that you love your dog, and some dogs have separate anxiety, but freezing them to death or causing heat stroke isn’t the best alternative to leaving them at home.

          Reply
          1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

            I am the same way! Too many people have smuggled their dogs into grocery stores where I live, too, and it’s annoying. Dogs that are tearing into things or yapping at everyone who walks by are not service dogs. I worked in disability services for years and was around service dogs regularly. They stick by their owners like a military guard when they are working. It’s interesting to see the difference in a service dog that’s working and one that’s been given the “at ease” (as it were) command.

            My town is very dog-friendly, which is fine until people feel they have a right to take their dog everywhere. One soccer field in the area finally had to ban dogs, because they were interfering with play on the field and were being allowed to go to the bathroom without anyone cleaning up after them.

            That said, I’m the same way about dogs in cars. I live somewhere it gets super hot and super cold, and I have been known to keep an eye on a car with a dog left in it when the owner is nowhere around. Only once have I had to have an owner paged and almost called the police, because the dog was panting so hard and just looked…ill. The owner got an earful about that. “But I left the window cracked and some water on the floor!” Yeah, the water was overturned and the window was cracked maaaybe a half-inch.

            I’m definitely an animal lover, so when this allergy came on years ago, I was upset about it. It’s gotten worse over the years, sadly, so I have to just watch cute puppy videos online. ;-)

            Reply
            1. JB (not in Houston)

              I think we are totally on the same page. I get allergy shots, and they help, but I’m still uncomfortably allergic to everything with fur or feathers. I so want to get a cat or dog, but like you I have to stick to watching cute videos online. :)

              Reply
            2. OhNo

              Honestlt, even if they ARE service dogs, they can be asked to leave if they are misbehaving badly. Service dogs are required to act with a certain degree of decorum, and legally if they are causing issues (I usually see aggression and bathroom issues mentioned, though I think loud/consistent noise would also qualify) they can be required to leave the premises. The owner doesn’t have to, but the dog does.

              But service dogs are so poorly understood that most people would rather err on the side of letting poorly behaved dogs wander everywhere and pee on everything than risk even asking someone if their dog is a service animal.

              Reply
              1. Bri

                As the manager of two retail stores I never had a problem asking people to leave if their dog wasn’t wearing a harness and I was very surprised one day when a customer told me his dog didn’t like wearing a harness (any dog who was trained as a service dog shouldn’t have an issue with that) and showed me a card he had. I did some asking around and apparently some people will “inherit” those cards from a dead relative. So their blind mother had a service dog and after their death their child took it and used it so they could bring their Chihuahua wherever they want.

                Reply
          1. caryatid

            this has happened to me too. i laughed when i was asked, and told them i was leaving the office until it was cleaned (it was #2)

            Reply
            1. Anony-turtle in a half shell!

              Good response! When my boss got back to the office, I told her what happened and she just stared at me with her mouth hanging open. The fact that anyone would do that left her speechless.

              Reply
        4. YawningDodo

          I’m really not surprised you faced this attitude considering how people are about cat allergies when most of them at least accept that cat allergies are a real thing that exist. I’m reminded of a couple years back when Jezebel ran a story triumphantly proclaiming that a cat living in a public library would be staying in the library, with the words “Buck Up, Allergy Kids” in the title. Made me so angry — I love animals (we’re outnumbered 2::1 animals::humans in this household), but non-allergic people’s right to enjoy the company of their critters in public spaces shouldn’t trump allergic people’s right to be able to freaking breathe. I’m not saying people can never have their pets in public or at work, but I’m surprised at how many people don’t think it’s reasonable for someone to expect that there won’t be animals in the workplace or at a library or other place of public services.

          Reply
    3. NK

      I completely agree. I just can’t imagine how you leave something like that out during the interview process, when it’s such a pervasive part of the company culture. While severe dog allergies are fairly rare, there are also so many people out there who are afraid of dogs, uncomfortable around them, or just plain dislike them. As OP’s story illustrates, it benefits no one to leave candidates in the dark about this.

      I can only assume that the company is so used to their homogeneity in terms of dog-loving that it truly did not occur to them that this office environment isn’t for everyone.

      Reply
      1. simonthegrey

        This. I was bitten on the face by a large dog as a child, and while I don’t have a fear that rises to the level of phobia, I cannot stand to be around big dogs that are not well behaved. A dog that lunges at me or tries to jump up on me is going to receive a pop to the nose before I can even consider what I’m doing. Small dogs, and big dogs that are well-controlled, I can handle just fine and even like. Sounds like this place is a hotbed of misbehaving animals…and their canine companions.

        Reply
    4. stilllah

      Yes! If the boss valued that perk so much, wouldn’t you tout it as a benefit at some point in the interview process?

      Reply
    5. Jeff A.

      I’m a dog owner / dog lover. If I was in an office that allowed dogs, I would consider this a HUGE perk (even though my dog is much to vocal when other dogs are around, and I could never bring him into an office while I worked with other people or dogs around). If I lost the dogs in the office perk because my company hired someone who was allergic I would be furious ***at the company*** for being insensitive and moronic enough not to disclose this up front when people interview! I would most definitely support a dog ban in this instance, and would really have to make a concerted effort not to turn the office against management for their ridiculous oversight.

      Reply
      1. INTP

        Exactly, the company itself lost the dog perk for the employees by failing to plan for possible allergies. They could have designed a floor plan that would allow some to be easily separate from the dogs, warned employees up front that they are dog-friendly, etc. Instead they did nothing and the employees are pissed at the OP for not just dragging her tail between her legs (no pun intended) and going off to sit at home unemployed.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          That’s a really useful way of thinking about it–that the company had a chance to make this work and failed because of their complacency.

          Reply
          1. V.V.

            Even worse they used the OP when it suited them. The CEO said no more dogs because of the flea problems and urination. I bet their plan all along was to turn it into an open office tear up the carpets and ban the dogs but didn’t want to be the “Bad Guys”. Better for everyone to be upset with the OP.

            “We would really like the dogs back too, but for reasons everyone knows *ahem* (pointed look at the OP) we were forced to modify our policies and that will not be possible.”

            A$$holes.

            Reply
            1. Ezri

              I noticed that too – in the conversation OP overheard, her boss flat out said that the dogs probably wouldn’t come back because the CEO didn’t like the smell or maintenance expenses. It’s ridiculous that upper management let OP shoulder the blame when it seems like they secretly were glad the dogs were gone.

              Reply
    6. INTP

      My experience with people like this is that they think anyone who doesn’t want to be in the company of dogs deserves to have their professional lives upended by taking a job they can’t stay in and to be tortured by allergies. Seems like they were short sighted to assume they were immune to the consequences of that too, though.

      Reply
      1. Viva

        Exactly. Even if they had told the OP, if she really needed the job, I wouldn’t blame her for taking it. Her livelihood>dog friendly perk, imo.

        Reply
    1. MashaKasha

      Got to love the gaslighting boss!!!

      Seriously, all I could think about when reading OP’s update was, “they hire fifth-graders now? not only that, but they also promote them to management?”

      Reply
        1. ted mosby

          seriously!! “my”* 4th grader tells friends when she’s mad at them

          *technically she is my brothers child but I am obsessed with her

          Reply
        2. AMG

          Exactly! right to have my dog here in front of me is more important than whether you have an extreme allergic reaction? My kids are 8 and 10 and would never be that immature and self-absorbed. I have raised them to be better to others than that. Too bad OP’s coworkers were never taught better standards of behavior.

          Reply
      1. AndersonDarling

        Yeah! It’s one thing to discretely indicate annoyance with something, but these people were just insane! Who says ridiculous things like that at work? There was something very wrong with them, very wrong.

        Reply
    2. Dynamic Beige

      Oh, to see the looks on their faces if the OP had chosen to walk out right after they said all those things. That would have totally been a mic drop moment.

      Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        Yeah I’d like to see them explain that one away! “oh it’s all in your head, you’re blowing it out of proportion. We were talking about the weather, weren’t we, girls?”

        Reply
  6. JBeane

    Wow, I’m so sorry that happened to you and I’m so glad you’re at a better place now. I am desperately in love with my own dog- she’s a huge part of my life and I take her everywhere she’s allowed (assuming it’s a place she’d actually like to be). Still, if I was in your co-workers’ situation, I’d totally accept that my office is now dog-free, because a person’s health takes precedence over my desire to hang out with my dog. I can’t imagine what the employees at that company were thinking.

    Reply
    1. Sharon

      I agree, I adore my dogs and would LOVE if I could bring them to work with me. However, I’m a professional and accept company policy against animals in the building. The big takeaway from this update is that the OP’s coworkers and management were completely immature and unprofessional. I want to slap them all for gaslighting the OP like that – especially her manager!

      Reply
      1. Dog

        I think though, if it was an ingrained cultural thing – and you’re suddenly expected to pay $22 a day equating to $5500 a year if you work 50 weeks a year to get the same ‘social interaction’ for your dog… I can see why people would be upset. I don’t get to bring my dog to work now, but if I could for years and years and then it was taken away I’d be pretty upset ya know?

        I hate that it’s victim blaming. I really do. Just trying to say that I do see the other side. I certainly don’t think the coworkers handled it correctly, the company handled it correctly, or anyone really handled it properly. Again, I think that the coworker should never have known it was due to OP’s allergies – switching to an open floorplan/new carpet is enough reason alone to change the policy!

        Reply
        1. Former Diet Coke Addict

          But you’re not expected to pay it–I mean, dog day care is a pretty nice thing but it’s not a necessity. It may be great for your dog, but don’t most dogs stay home all day and do just fine with it? And isn’t the point of bringing your dogs to work that they’ll stay quietly with you rather than romping joyously with the other dogs?

          Reply
          1. Charlotte Lucas

            While for some dogs it might be more necessary (certain breeds need more stimulation/interaction & some dogs might need regular medication, etc.), doggy daycare is really a pretty new thing in the world. The dogs in my family always had the job of guarding the house while we were gone – it worked out well for all. If you work especially long hours, doggy daycare makes sense, since the dog has some personal needs to take care of outside, but there’s also something called a neighbor kid – they’re often pretty happy to help out for a few bucks a week. (My understanding is that there are professional dog walkers in larger urban areas, but they didn’t exist in my suburb.)

            Reply
            1. SL #2

              Honestly, I would trust a professional dog-walker over the neighborhood kid who may forget, skip a day or two and pocket the money, may not be certified to handle dogs… the list goes on…

              A friend of mine runs a dog-walking business and now hires several other walkers (all certified with pet care programs). His biggest complaint is that they’re understaffed! Too many pups and not enough walkers. They do big business in their neighborhood of apartments and houses with no backyards.

              Reply
              1. Charlotte Lucas

                I’m speaking from a “smaller community, everyone knows each other and which kids are and aren’t responsible” kind of perspective. (Often the same people you’d trust to babysit.) In a city, I’d go the dog-walker route.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  Yeah, around here there’d definitely be kids I’d have in my house before strange adults. (There’d also be vet tech and vet students looking to make some cash, and that’s actually where I’d go, but that’s clearly not going to be an option everywhere.)

                2. Honeybee

                  Honestly, the times I’ve lived in a city are actually the times when I’ve known my neighbors the best and trusted them the most. You’re living in closer quarters, are more likely to pass them in the hallway or in the grounds or on the street. I used to have a neighbor in New York who took my packages in for me, sometimes things worth hundreds of dollars. And I felt pretty safe coming home to my somewhat-sketchy neighborhood late at night after a couple years because I knew a lot of the teens and young adults who hung out on the block late at night – some of them lived in my building. A couple of my close friends grew up in neighborhoods in New York where they knew everyone and their now-older neighbors watched them grow up. An area being urban doesn’t necessarily mean you know your neighbors any less or trust them any less. Urban areas tend to have neighborhoods that function as enclaves.

                3. Charlotte Lucas

                  I completely agree Honeybee. Both my parents were raised in urban areas where they knew their neighbors really well. (My observation is this is even more common in working class or lower class areas. YMMV.) It really depends upon the community. I live in an urban area now where I don’t know my neighbors as well (high turnover in rentals), but I do know a lot of the local business owners and would trust them for a recommendation.

              2. Honeybee

                Honestly, the idea of someone being “certified to handle dogs” is a pretty new concept, too. I love my dog to pieces, but I’m not “certified to handle” her and she’s mine. I’m a person who loves dogs who learned how to work with her on my own. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a 6-class certification to take a dog outside to poop and throw a frisbee. There are some dogs with special needs who may require a more experienced handler.

                Reply
          2. Dog

            Agreed, just saying that for the comparable care that’d be the cost. My dog stays home 8-9 hours a day, every day, and he’s just fine.

            Reply
            1. ElCee

              Mine just sleeps. I get so thrilled to spend more time with him on days I WFH, but just looks at me like “Okay….well, time for my nap, seeya” and heads upstairs to bed.

              Reply
              1. Nashira

                This is what my cat does. “Oh, you’re not usually home. Whatever, I’m gonna go sleep on your fuzzy bed blankets now see you at lunch time.”

                Reply
          3. pop tart

            Eh it depends on the dog. My little dog can stay home alone for my entire work day (I’m gone for 11 to 12 hours), and if I have a friend available to swing by and let her out we do that but for the most part she’ll just sleep. My big dog… he has to go to daycare at least once a week to burn off all his energy. He’s still a baby though, only just 3 years old so eventually he’ll mellow out, but for now it’s just something we have to do. It’d be great if they could play together but it’s pretty hard for an 8lb dog to be interested in rough housing with her dopey, uncoordinated 90lb brother, haha.

            Reply
        2. Kate M

          I mean, to have a perk that’s so far out of professional norms, you have to expect that it might be taken away at some point. I love dogs and I would love to work in an office that allowed them, but any sane person would know that there are going to be people with allergies. Or that the dogs might interrupt work, and then would be banned. And it seemed like this perk was going to be taken away anyway, because they were PEEING ON THE CARPET AND HAD FLEA PROBLEMS IN THE OFFICE. I mean, that just boggles my mind here.

          If people were allowed to bring kids to work, but then they were becoming disruptive, so then that perk was taken away, it wouldn’t make sense to get up in arms about having to get daycare. That’s something that you have to think about before getting kids and dogs.

          Reply
          1. Underemployed Erin

            When this letter first came up, I did not know that a dog-in-office perk existed. But since this letter, I think that I have seen that Amazon is dog friendly. I also learned that company local to me is dog friendly, and there are lists of “10 companies that let you bring your dog to work.” Some of them, like the humane society, make sense, but there are numerous tech companies on these lists.

            Reply
            1. Kate M

              Of course there are some companies that offer this, but it’s still outside of professional office norms, if you ask me. Plus, it’s a perk that (obviously) can severely hurt others. This isn’t a perk like healthcare or vacation days that normally don’t hurt others. This seems to be a fad right now, but I think we’ll see in a few years that businesses either have to do away with it for health reasons (like with the OP), or they get tired of having pee-stained carpets.

              Reply
            2. KTB

              My understanding of tech companies being dog-friendly is that dogs simply cannot be left alone for more than your average workday (8-9 hours), so that “perk” is a way to keep employees at work longer. If they can take the dog out during the day, they can work 50-60 (or longer) hour weeks on the regular.

              I’m sure that’s not the MO for all tech companies, but it certainly applies to some.

              Reply
              1. Honeybee

                Honestly, I think that’s the MO for a lot of tech companies’ perks – laundry and dry cleaning at work, free dinners, nap pods, the like. They’re designed to keep their (often mostly young) employees at work for longer hours.

                Reply
                1. Broke Law Student

                  Yes!! I had a friend recently take me on a tour of her office at Google. You know, “this is our rock climbing wall, this is a treadmill desk, here’s our fully stocked kitchen…” so obviously she never has to leave, right?

                  Amazon I know is super dog-friendly, and so are a lot of places in Seattle. I’m not actually sure that people there think of this perk as being outside professional norms because it is very common, but if someone has an allergy or phobia, then that trumps the desire to bring dogs to work, even if it does make life harder for some of the employees!

                2. Ezri

                  When I was job searching out of college, I interviewed with the most boring-sounding office environments I could find. Those flashy, ‘modern’ tech companies are notorious for snapping up fresh grads and sucking the lives out of them, and I wasn’t impressed by “we can wear jeans at work, we’re so cool!”. My current job doesn’t have nap pods, recreational activities, or pet policies… but I get to do my work and go home at the end of the day.

        3. Apollo Warbucks

          If someone is upset they can’t bring their dog to work that’s on them. For a start the OP has a serious medical condition that would likely have got worse over time with continual exposure to dogs, secondly the owner might well have changed the policy regardless and above all the OP was treated very badly by a lot of people, that’s not on regardless of how upset they are.

          Reply
          1. Observer

            Actually, the owner WAS changing the policy regardless of the OP. AND THE MANAGER KNEW IT. But, instead of using that information to calm the situation down a bit, she acted like a toddler having a tantrum.

            Reply
            1. INFJ

              Yep. They can’t reasonably retaliate against the real drivers of the new policy: management (and presume to keep their job), so they harass OP because they can.

              Reply
        4. Kitty

          As someone who recently lost the ability to bring their dog to work due to a new co-worker’s allergies, yeah, I’m bummed. But I also knew that bringing Cujo was a priviledge, not a right, and frankly me being bummed wouldn’t justify the kind of obnoxious behavior that OP was subjected to.

          Reply
          1. Jerzy

            Oh, well, see, you’re being reasonable, which is apparently a luxury OPs coworkers couldn’t afford, so they were left being obnoxious, selfish and immature twats. Shame.

            Reply
        5. Ad Astra

          I would expect people to be upset, or at least disappointed, about finding new arrangements for their dog. Many employees might have chosen this company or chosen to get a dog based on this cool perk, and now they don’t have it. That sucks.

          What I didn’t expect was a bunch of adults treating their coworker like a leper for something that’s out of her control. Benefits and perks change all the time at all kinds of jobs, and bullying is never a reasonable or understandable response to that. Honestly, most high school kids don’t even behave this way. (Neither here nor there, but it does seem like middle and high school kids are far more accepting of others’ differences and far more inclusive than they were 20 or 30 years ago.)

          Reply
          1. Not surprised

            I actually am not at all surprised by the coworkers reactions and predicted this would happen. Please note, I do NOT think it should happen. But people are crazy about pets. We are a pet free office. We had a staff member with an extreme dog allergy. She would get visible blisters on her skin and have trouble breathing. Maybe 3 times per year, a random client would try to bring a dog in with them. If they got inside before someone could tell them the dog wasn’t allowed, she would have to go home. Once she had to go to the hospital.

            When she moved to a different company SO many people said “I’m glad x is gone. Now clients can bring their dog in.” You know, that thing that happened 3 times/year at most. It is not the type of business you would expect to be able to bring your dog. Think something like visiting an insurance agent.

            And those 3 times/year someone does bring a dog in everyone goes crazy over it. I love dogs. I volunteer at a shelter. But the total excitement over the allergic person quitting meaning 3 times/year they would see a dog was so bizarre. Oh and they also repeatedly told her manager “her replacement better not be allergic.” Pitchforks indeed.

            Reply
            1. Nashira

              See, that doesn’t read like people being crazy for pets. It’s people deciding that disability doesn’t matter and other people should suck it up and not be crippled in public, because it’s suuuch an inconvenience for the able. (n.b. I am disabled and can’t hide it. Social justice centered on defeating ableism is important to me.)

              Reply
              1. Jerzy

                I agree. Allergies are seen as no big deal, because so many people have things like hayfever, and celiac is somehow becoming trendy. A lot of people don’t realize the seriousness of some allergies. Again, celiac is a perfect example. It’s not just about people feeling a little sick after eating wheat. It’s about their bodies becoming unable to absorb nutrients, and people becoming severely anemic and malnourished.

                A friend of mine once forgot his inhaler at home while he was visiting my house and nearly ended up in the hospital because of my cat. Allergies are truly dangerous to some people, to the point where they could actually, literally die.

                Anyone who thinks having a dog in the office trumps that is not someone I’m interested in knowing.

                Reply
            2. Ezri

              The pets in OP’s office were just convenient outlets. People that self-centered are rarely that way over one aspect of their lives. It doesn’t mean everyone who has a pet is completely bonkers.

              Reply
        6. Nashira

          Okay, but see, the other side here wasn’t disappointed. They engaged in abusive behavior and violated the law by retaliating against the OP for needing a reasonable accommodation.

          I’m willing to be sympathetic to someone being bummed. I am not willing to be sympathetic to people who think that a perk is more important than a co-worker’s ability to breathe, avoid hospitalization, and not die. By continuing to go on like the coworkers were justified in retaliating, you’re contributing to the background noise of ableism that makes people scared to ask for reasonable accommodations and that is intensely frustrating.

          Reply
        7. Observer

          Except that it wasn’t about this person. If you noticed, the dogs were causing some serious damage and would have been incompatible with the new office plan anyway. That’s what really blows me a way- the manager KNEW this, but STILL had it out for the OP. Seriously? That’s probably why the lawyers suddenly threw her out of the office and got so cooperative. They might not have won a lawsuit, but they must have been fairly concerned that making it go away was going to take a lot more money than they expected, under the circumstances.

          Reply
          1. Marian the Librarian

            > “…the manager KNEW this, but STILL had it out for the OP.”

            The manager is just so gross and two-faced. I was infuriated while I was reading this update, even more so than I was when I read the initial letter. This manager was too cowardly to put her foot down about the no-dog policy coming from management, so she blamed it on OP… But then lied about it to OP’s face and pretended to support her! This is just disgusting behavior. I would have been so hurt and angry in OP’s position, I am so glad OP got out of there and got in writing that she would receive a good reference.

            Reply
        8. Dynamic Beige

          you’re suddenly expected to pay $22 a day equating to $5500 a year if you work 50 weeks a year to get the same ‘social interaction’ for your dog… I can see why people would be upset.

          I can, too. But, it’s not like the OP stood up on a chair and announced to the entire office that this was the new procedure that she was implementing. This came from the company. The company that had to pay for new carpets due to dog owners’ repeated and on-going negligence. The company that is also working their employees extremely hard with probably no overtime or other compensatory benefits. Much easier to keep people happy with something that appears to cost you nothing (bring in your dog!) than deal with the daily grumble of everyone’s unhappiness. The company probably had the open plan office space thing going on for a while since every company is doing it and OP just became a super scapegoat for everyone on her floor. It’s too bad someone in that office didn’t try to bring in their pet boa constrictor or tarantula. That would have been an interesting conversation to hear.

          Reply
        9. Viva

          It’s not victim blaming to be upset that a perk is taken away. Not in any way shape or form.
          It is victim blaming to blame the OP for that and vocally be mean about it.

          Reply
  7. LNB

    This is the problem with society today. Truth is the new hate speech. Allergy does not equal hatred of animals. Things are being blown out of proportion today as everyone thinks they are special little snowflakes. I commend you for not snapping back.

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      can we quit with the “special snowflakes” stuff and overgeneralization? This seems like a problem with this company and bad management there.

      Reply
      1. LawLady

        Cosigned. Bad things can happen but generally once we devolve into “kids these days”-type statements, it’s just overgeneralized grumbling.

        Reply
      2. Ad Astra

        If anything, the most special snowflake* was the OP, and she was treated quite poorly for being different and having different needs. So I don’t understand the “we’re too PC” or “everyone thinks they’re special” argument here.

        * I realize “special snowflake” is typically a pejorative, but in this case I’m just using it to indicate that the OP had (legitimate) individual needs that didn’t apply to the whole group. Nothing OP did or said indicated the hated “special snowflake” behavior that people complain about.

        Reply
    2. LQ

      The problem with society today is that we as human beings care more and more about other human beings and as we do we see others who don’t and want to help them catch up but we don’t always have the best tools to do so. The more we care about those around us and treat them with more respect the more easy it will be. But it is always important to remember to not alienate those you are trying to help get on the respect and understanding train.

      Reply
  8. GigglyPuff

    They had a flea problem?! And still didn’t get rid of the dogs??!

    I love dogs, used to work at a dog kennel, but a flea problem? I just can’t even…

    Maybe I’m being sensitive right now, because I got notified recently that my old apartment building (moved last week for different reasons), had fleas and people in multiple apartments were finding them, and did I see any?? OMG people, living in the South 101 with a pet, you give them flea meds year round. (I know they can still happen with meds, but pretty sure the only other tenant who had a pet, wasn’t giving them) Thank goodness I had just given my dog her meds a week before this happened or I might have gotten fleas. As it was, I rushed home and immediately finished packing my clothes/textiles for the move, and even wrapped all of the suitcases/bags in trash bags so I wouldn’t bring them to the new place.

    Seriously OP, nice job getting out. You handled that really well.

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      Here’s a public service announcement – Fleas are getting resistant to several treatments, especially Frontline. We treated all our pets (including indoor cats) and were quite surprised when we found the all COVERED in fleas this summer. It was god awful to get rid of them all, and we still find one or two from time to time.

      Reply
      1. GigglyPuff

        Yeah, we had that with ticks one year with our old family pet. She had become immune to the stuff from long time use, let her out in the backyard one day in the summer, in the south…dear god, came back with a tick commune, even the vet was impressed. She got to wear a tick collar and take separate oral tick meds for the rest of the summer. Fun times.

        Reply
      2. AnotherAlison

        Another PSA. . .when your old, standoffish dog has a black mark on his back, do not assume it is a grease spot from laying under the cars. I saw this, ignored it for a couple days because he is blind and snaps at you when you touch him, and when my husband finally went to examine it, it was 100s of FLEAS creating that black spot!!! Like you, we had a treatment on him so did not suspect fleas. After a month of OTC remedies, Advantix II treatment, a few flea dips at the vet, and diy carpet treatments, we had to have the carpets professionally cleaned to get rid of them.

        Reply
        1. Katie the Fed

          Oh god – that moment you discover hundreds of fleas on them. ACKKK. My dog was scratching a lot and rubbing up against the couches, and then I looked more closely and ERMAGAWD.

          I do miss those romantic nights with my husband picking fleas off the pets. UGH.

          Reply
            1. Jools

              Yes! My (indoor-only) cat somehow got fleas a couple of months ago, around the same time that I spent a weekend out of town. My first indication that something was wrong was when I started noticing bites on my legs, a few days after I got home. I was tremendously relieved when I discovered that it was fleas and that I hadn’t managed to pick up bedbugs at the lovely Airbnb I stayed at…

              Reply
          1. Ezri

            Blurg, fleas. We had them a few years ago, and getting rid of them was a nightmare. We’d beat them back, think everything was cool, then I’d see a little black speck crawling on my white kitty’s face. :( To this day I am paranoid about finding fleas on me, because they kept getting into the furniture and then onto me and aaaaaaaaggh. Yucky.

            Reply
          2. JessaB

            My sister rented a house that shared a wall with the neighbor, she kept her cats treated but the neighbour not so much. When we moved her, I flea bombed the moving truck just to be safe. Seriously it’s a pain in the keester if other pet owners don’t take care also.

            Reply
        1. CA Admin

          There are some really good oral medications that you can get from your vet. Different stuff than the topical, so hopefully your dog wouldn’t be allergic. Definitely worth talking to your vet about.

          PSA on getting rid of fleas: Get a flea collar, cut it up, and put it in your vacuum bag or canister. Then vacuum. Doesn’t expose the animal to nasty chemicals, but still sucks up and kills fleas. Boom!

          Reply
        2. Episkey

          Try garlic powder supplement in his meals. I use Springtime Bug Off — I actually use Sentinel for heartworm preventative which has a flea preventative in it as well, but the garlic helps with ticks & flies in the summer.

          Reply
            1. GA_DVM

              Yes. Garlic, diatomaceous earth, fairy kisses– not effective parasitacides. Please, just use a commercial preventative year-round! We’re seeing a TON of fleas cases right now, as fleas are wanting to come inside to the warmth– gross!

              Reply
        3. louise

          I don’t think oils and homeopathic/all-natural remedies are nearly as effective as my FB feed full of crunchy friends would have me believe, but for a pet who is allergic to the chemical prevention, I’d highly recommend looking into an oil or natural shampoo or something that claims to be a flea a/o tick deterrent.

          Reply
          1. Chinook

            “but for a pet who is allergic to the chemical prevention, I’d highly recommend looking into an oil or natural shampoo or something that claims to be a flea a/o tick deterrent.”

            You could always move somewhere where it is dang cold for numerous months out of the year. Say what you will about -40 but there had yet to be a flea that can live through it!

            Reply
            1. Case of the Mondays

              Northern New England here. I think that is why we have been so lucky so far. My poor pup is allergic to one of her mandatory vaccines too and has to take benadryl and doggy steroid before she gets it. Her face blew up like a basketball. For the topical flea and tick stuff she has a neurological reaction where she gets painful spinal spasms.

              Reply
            2. Leah the designer

              I lived in northern Minnesota for most of my life. During the winter no ticks and flees, but as soon as summer hit hello ticks! We lived in the country and had an indoor/outdoor dog. Even with a tick collar daily pulling of the ticks was necessary.

              Reply
      3. Elle the new fed

        This. Ugh, I used to live near a park and the fleas would come over into our yard from the park. My dog ALWAYS had fleas no matter how many baths and meds I gave him.

        Reply
      4. Annonymous

        The only thing that really turned the battle of the fleas for us was food grade diatomaceous earth (the non food grade stuff is mega dangerous for humans and pets). Put it on the carpet and vacuum like you would with flea powder, and put some in your pet’s hidey holes so a little gets on thier skin. Its good for breaking ant trails too.

        Reply
      5. Erin

        Yes! Frontline! It does not work! I also dealt with about a year long battle with fleas and basically consider myself an expert at this point.

        I use the Seresto collar for one cat – the other is allergic to it and she uses Revolution. Those two products have worked for me.

        In fact, when our vet sent pictures of my car’s allergic reaction to the Seresto folks they gave us a refund, and they also have a rebate on the collar. Good company.

        Reply
        1. Owl

          Frontline works. Just as medication does not affect all people in the same way, it affects animals differently as well.

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            My friend thought Frontline was not working, then he found out, don’t wash the dog before applying it. It relies on oils on the skin to spread out. But this year was bad-bad. Even with proper application the Frontline worked for a few days and then quit.

            Reply
        2. Feline

          PSA: If your cat or dog has an allergic reaction to a flea medication or any other medication, notify the authorities. For medications they take as pills, that’s the FDA. For spot-on topical medications, that’s the EPA. A vet reporting it to the parent company (Bayer in the case of Seresto) is good, but chances are VERY HIGH they won’t pass the report along to the EPA/FDA. They don’t want to endanger their profitable medication. There are some pet meds that have serious side effects that happen over and over and don’t make it to the FDA’s ears, and clinical trials don’t uncover the things that show up when a wider number of pets are using a medication. The FDA has s simple web form for reporting this… not sure about the EPA, since I haven’t tried..

          This goes for human medications, too, by the way. The only way that the FDA knows that meds aren’t as safe as they thought is when you let them know and they can see what percentage of people (or animals) are having serious side effects.

          Reply
      6. Meredith

        Another PSA: Please don’t put anything over the recommended dosage on your pet’s skin. I worked at a vet clinic in high school, and one of the saddest things I ever saw was a cat that had been given a large-dog-sized dose of flea medication. She did not make it, and it was horrible.

        Reply
    2. Ad Astra

      Perhaps the most frustrating part of the story is the section where dogs are forced out for obvious and legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with OP’s allergies, but they continue to blame her for the loss of this perk. That’s where it goes from “doing a bad job of handling things like a professional” to “going out of your way to make someone miserable.”

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Yeah, that was wild. Though, now that I think about it, that’s also a really common human dynamic where the group isn’t going to change its direction even though rationally the direction no longer makes sense. It makes me think of internet pile-ons. “We hate this person because she said X!” “Okay, but she didn’t actually say X. She said Y, or V +X.” “But we still hate her! We’ve found other reasons to justify it so we don’t feel like it’s just unexamined momentum!”

        Reply
      2. Laurel Gray

        If pee stained carpets and fleas didn’t bother these people then they are absolute dirtbags. Good for the OP for getting out of there.

        Reply
      3. Creag an Tuire

        Not to mention the conversation where they acknowledge that they may never get their dog benefit back, but want her out anyway because she ruined -everything- with her stupid allergies. People can be remarkably petty.

        Reply
    3. Dog

      UGH I love dogs but seriously if there were fleas in my office I’d not only insist on working from home but I’d charge the company for flea-bombing my house. Similar to the bed-bug incident that another LW wrote about…

      Reply
    4. Artemesia

      We made our cats indoor cats when we found that we could not avoid fleas in our house otherwise. I was unwilling to subject my children to pesticides with frequent treatments to get rid of fleas in the house. (this was before the easy to use flea drops for cats and dogs) I would be livid if I were exposed to flea bites at work — and pee on the carpet — yeccch.

      Reply
    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Yes, but that crew will find another reason to whine and play the victim and stir up that mob mentality. I just hope the one friend the OP had there got out, too.

      Reply
    2. A Bug!

      I can’t help but wonder how many employees are glad the dogs are gone but would never say so, because they don’t want to paint a target on their backs.

      Reply
      1. Beth

        Likewise. Between the pee and the fleas, OP probably had quite a few silent supporters who didn’t dare risk catching the attention of the bullies who run the place.

        Reply
      2. CMT

        This is a really good point. This place just sounds like an awful place to work. And what happens if you disagree with a totally unrelated company practice? Probably a similar reaction.

        Reply
      3. Kassy

        That would have been me! I don’t like dogs in general and having that many of them at work would bum me out. Had I been told up front how many dogs would be there on a given day, I would have probably self-selected out of working there.

        Reply
      4. OwnedByTheCat (formerly Anony-Moose)

        +1,000. I worked in the administrative offices of a private school for several years. There was an unofficial policy of “if your kid is sick/otherwise not in class, they can come hang out in your cube” accompanied by “at 3:30pm all the kids will come to the office.” But I didn’t have kids. What it meant was that a) if there was a sick kid in the office all day they were always in the way, and b) at 3:30pm every day a horde of kids ranging from 6 to 16 would come stampeding into the office. They would literally run around in circles. Because they’re kids who are full of energy.

        At some point one person was told her kids were coming in too much (a full day more than once a week) and that it wasn’t permitted anymore. Everyone was APPALLED. But damn it was hard to get any work when there were kids around! I was really relieved when there were at least LESS kids around.

        Reply
        1. Kassy

          Ack! Kids at work is not really better than dogs at work, just different pros and cons! (At least my daughter wears a diaper! But her, and most kids’, whining grates on the ears like most dogs never could.)

          Reply
        2. Artemesia

          Great. so you the person without kids gets to be exposed to flu, chicken pox, strep throat etc etc on the job; I’ll bet you didn’t get extra sick days, not that that would make up for it.

          I am outraged when people bring a sick child into the workplace. Years ago I tackled my bosses AA who brought a child with chicken pox into an office with a pregnant secretary and an elderly secretary neither of whom had had it. It is about the most contagious illness there is. The boss was away; I had no authority but had a fair amount of status; I insisted she take the kid home and had two tearfully grateful staff members bringing me cookies. The AA was their boss and they were terrified but felt they couldn’t say anything.

          Reply
          1. Green

            Yeahhhhh, as far as flexibility goes, I’d advocate for generous work-from-home or sick leave policy that allows people to care for sick children without exposing the office to illness.

            Reply
          2. Green

            Also, there are lots of people who have suppressed immune systems — treatments for lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, people on steroids, etc. can all cause immunosuppression. People usually only think of it for cancer or AIDS/HIV, but there are so many people who you would not know have compromised immune systems. If you work in an office, your operating assumption should be that at least SOMEONE has a higher vulnerability to infection.

            Reply
          3. Honeybee

            why why Why WHY would you bring a kid with chicken pox anywhere other than a doctor’s office?

            Like seriously. Why.

            Reply
      5. Turtle Candle

        Yeah. If I didn’t love having dogs in the office peeing on the rugs (!) and spreading fleas (!!), and I saw someone get this kind of aggressive pushback and harassment for a genuine life-threatening allergy, I’d be afraid to express my fondness for a non-urine-scented office space for fear of getting even worse treatment. (And I like dogs a lot, personally. But I’d be really displeased with urine stains and/or fleas, even so.)

        Reply
    3. Windchime

      I hope they *do* get their dog benefit back, and then are rewarded with a plague of fleas. Medicine-resistant fleas. The kind that leave itchy sores all over your legs.

      Reply
  9. Cucumberzucchini

    If I was in your shoes, I would probably sue them anyway. Because I’m not a lawyer, I’m not sure what for, but I would do it just to, at the very least, inconvenience them. Though with your mom’s situation it probably isn’t worth the time and upheaval to your life to be involved in a law suit especially since you found a new job that’s a great fit. But these people are so out of their gourd insane they need to be taken to task over this. What in the world?!?!

    Reply
    1. Mike C.

      Yeah, I can understand just wanting to move on (and that’s totally legitimate), but there is a vindictive side of me that would take all this documentation to a labor lawyer for a consult and at least hear if there are any reasonable options.

      I mean come on, this is a story where the phase “hostile work environment” was used correctly! That’s got to be worth at least a consult, right?

      Reply
        1. TootsNYC

          Yeah, if you were a lawyer, wouldn’t you be tickled to have someone come in and say “hostile work environment” and be using the term correctly?

          Sort of like being a copyeditor and running across someone who uses the term “beg the question” properly!

          I’d copyedit an entire story for free, just to see that.

          Reply
    2. California girl

      I am incredibly averse to lawsuits, but I agree with veggie mix here. Part of me wishes that you had demanded a settlement then and there.

      But I also do not want you to have any further struggle with this psychotic workplace. You have enough stress in your life.

      How relieved I am for you that you found a supportive new position. Nice job. Move forward!

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I like the idea of the OP at least hearing what a lawyer has to say. It doesn’t commit her to doing anything, and it might turn out that the lawyer can easily get her a good settlement from the company without having to go through an actual lawsuit.

        Reply
        1. Green

          It sounds like a good case for constructive discharge if her allergies actually do rise to ADA, and since she got a lower salary at her new job there may be actual damages… #IANOPsL

          Reply
    3. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon

      In an ideal world, I would love to see people like this being stood up to, but I’ve also known someone leave a workplace like this for exactly the same reasons, and unfortunately a lawsuit seems to be much harder on the victim than the company. I’d be *very* vehement on Glassdoor and to acquaintances though.

      Reply
      1. Turtle Candle

        Yeah, I’d personally be disinclined to put the time/money into a lawsuit even if I knew for a fact I could win it, because they’re so stressful. I hate to say that, because that’s what allows companies to continue to get away with this kind of thing, but it’s true.

        But I’d be spreading the word far and wide (assuming that my agreement upon leaving didn’t prevent such things….).

        Reply
      2. F.

        I do hope the OP left an accurate review on Glassdoor. As the victim of the same type of bullying that the OP had to endure, I would not wish that on anyone. As the saying goes, karma is a bi*(h. True story: When I re-entered the workforce after my first husband left after 13 years of raising children, I worked through a temp agency. One afternoon, before I had a chance to get home from downtown, the temp agency rep called my home and left the message with my TWELVE-YEAR-OLD son (who sounded obviously like a child) to tell his mother that she was fired and not to come back to that assignment (I was good at what I was doing and had told the office bully that she was not going to make me cry like she did every other woman in the office when she started her bullcr@p.). I came home that night to an hysterical, high-functioning autistic son who was convinced we were going to starve to death because I had lost my job. The next day, I went to the temp agency’s offices and told the owner in no uncertain terms about how unprofessional his rep was. They gave me a box of my personal items (including dead flowers!). I left the dead flowers on the rep’s desk and went home. Fast forward 14 years, and I am now an HR Manager. Guess which agency called to try to get my company’s business? I took great pleasure in telling them exactly why my company would NEVER do business with them. Karma can be so satisfying when it finally happens!

        Reply
        1. Artemesia

          Ahh warms the cockles of my heart. I too was once in the position of torpedoing the hiring of someone who had behaved abominably towards me on another job. And he so wanted to work at the prestigious place where I worked. It was easy to — just the look on my face when I was asked for a reference did it.

          Reply
          1. Anon Accountant

            I love hearing stories like this! That agency definitely wasn’t going to get your company’s business and rightfully so. And it’s good that a terrible, rude coworker wasn’t hired at your workplace. The toes they stepped on…

            Reply
        2. Hlyssande

          I had a temp agency leave a message with my roommate when they knew I was driving home and so wouldn’t be able to answer.

          And I never got my stuff back (not that I kept a lot there – box of granola bars and a brand new big bottle of jergens cherry almond lotion). I only really missed the lotion.

          Still pisses me off.

          Reply
    4. Observer

      In an ideal world, these guys would be out of jobs. But, honestly, the OP did the smartest thing. Law suits take an enormous amount of energy.

      Reply
    5. Very Anon

      I left a company under similar circumstances and I did seek the assistance of an employment attorney. I had documented everything and because of that, I had a strong case. I didn’t have to pay anything out of pocket, but it took a year for the settlement.
      You have to be in a good emotional place to handle it. Every time the attorney calls, it brings back the emotions. And it’s kind of like the Batman issue…once you destroy your enemies, you don’t really feel better, you just have the same vengeful feelings.
      Oh, and these kind of settlements aren’t going to make you rich, it’s not like the movies.
      If I had to do it again, I would. But I would make sure I completely disconnected myself from the past and was only thinking of my future.

      Reply
      1. New Commenter

        The OP sort of agreed not to sue them if they provided an immediate payment of monies due to her and a positive reference. Even if she could land a settlement, I think she should keep her agreement.

        Reply
    6. Creag an Tuire

      As emotionally satisfying as suing the bastards would be in the short-term, I’d be worried that being Someone What Sued Their Employer, even if it was completely justified, would be career poison in the long-term. I think OP got the best she could out of this, leaving with her health, bank account, and references intact and leaving these jerks behind her to, ahem, stew in their own juices.

      Reply
  10. BadPlanning

    I am still baffled why the dog friendly environment thing never came up during interviews (either as a perk or an FYI or warning). Especially since it is obviously a Big Deal (and many dogs) at this company. I get that sometimes it’s easy forget things to tell the new people because you’re so used to them, but this still seems odd.

    Anyway, I’m glad there was a silver lining to this storm cloud, OP.

    Also, urine stink carpets? Ew. They owe you a favor from indirectly forcing an office recarpet.

    Reply
    1. TB

      Yes, this. It seems like they would have bragged about it during the interview, since they seem to think it’s awesome to work on pee-stained, flea-infested carpets. :-P

      I love my dogs. I don’t want to work with yours.

      Reply
    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

      Guilty of this:(

      I haven’t participated in an interview since the original letter, but in reading that post, I realized I had never once heard anyone mention to a candidate that dogs are allowed in our office!

      We talk *a lot* about culture in our interviews and somehow this doesn’t come up. I did share the original post with our HR Director though!

      Reply
  11. Kyrielle

    OMG I can’t even. I am so glad you were able to get out of there to somewhere that is a better fit, and I hope your new job rocks, in addition to allowing you to breathe.

    Your former boss and coworkers that were in that bathroom conversation are just…seriously, did they ever emotionally move beyond high school? Ugh.

    So glad HR at least understood the risks/threat, if nothing else, and gave you the written agreement about references. Hopefully/presumably they’ll stick to it.

    Reply
  12. 42

    WWWWWHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!! I can safely say I DID NOT see any of that coming. Holy, holy, holy crap.

    So glad you’re out OP. You did good.

    Reply
  13. Clever Name

    This really is a stunning update. Thank you so much for providing it! I work in a dog-friendly office, and I can see how someone could interview here and never encounter a dog, however, we note in job announcements we are dog friendly and we have a sign on the front door. Your coworkers were truly awful. I’m glad you left the way you did. So ballsy.

    Reply
  14. Hermione

    You handled this very, very well. I’m so sorry people are so crazy. I’ve never understood workplaces that allow for dogs when so many people have similar reactions to you – my allergies to cats are severe enough that when my boyfriend lived at his parents home with two cats, he needed to change into freshly laundered clothes before he could hug me. I break out into hives because of the cat dander, and if exposed for too long, my eyes get itchy, runny and start to puff up. If cat-friendly workplaces became a thing and I was in your situation, I wouldn’t have been able to function. Shame on them for handling things so badly – and for their workers for being so horribly catty.

    I hope this new job is much better, and that the old place continues to have flea problems. Also, I’m sorry about your mom. I’ve been there, and it’s a terrible place to be. Sending good thoughts your way.

    Reply
    1. KR

      I know this is off-topic and I am very sympathetic to your allergies (for years my father had severe pet allergies where if he had to spend a night in a house with a dog he could possibly have to go to the emergency room), but if I could bring my cat into work every day it would be AWESOME. She totally would not be a fan unless I had a cubicle all to myself though.

      Reply
    2. AMG

      That’s what I can’t get past–this many crazy jerks in one office. What kind if people really think like this? And they all happened to congregate here? Terrible luck. But at least OP never has to see those weirdos again.

      Reply
      1. Creag an Tuire

        In my experience, it only takes three or four jerkasses to create a critical mass. Most people are just trying to keep their heads down and take home their paycheck, and if that means going along with the daily Five-Minutes Hate, fine, anything to make sure they’re not the -target- of it.

        Reply
        1. Taylor

          I’ll second this. I work in a small office that’s almost entirely populated by catty jerks. They literally ignore me for no reason–if I sneeze, no one says a word, they don’t ask me to order lunch with them, they are openly and proudly racist and just plain rude (ex, they called our sweet, innocuous older HR lady with a slight hunch in her poor spine “Quasimodo” behind her back. Who does that!). I could go on.

          That said, I know all this treatment comes from one Queen Bee in the office. The other people who do this crap are just trying not to get bulldozed over by her (like I am :)).

          Reply
  15. Ankh-Morpork

    If there are any Hiring Managers/Interviewers out there – please try to give serious candidates a tour of the space they will actually be working in!! Often the front of office space will not tell you things about an office that the working space will. You might be able to weed out some very bad fits that you might have otherwise chosen. Is it an open office plan? Not everyone can work like that. Is right wing talk radio playing? Some people will walk right out. Do the employees engage in nerf wars? Not for everyone. This is where people will spend 8 hours a day – it’s a good idea to let them see if they will be comfortable there or if they will be frantically writing to Ask a Manager within a week.

    Reply
    1. Dog

      I’ve always gotten a tour. Something like a perk of bringing my dog to work – saves $ in day care and dog walker! That’s like, extra pay! – would have really meant a lot to me.
      I agree that the company was wrong in that they should have been up-front about the dogs in the first place, but they should have made more accomodations for OP.
      Additionally, OPs coworkers should not have known it was OP who was the ‘reason’ why they couldn’t have dogs anymore. Switching to an open floorplan would be reason enough in and of itself.

      Reply
      1. AnotherAlison

        The open floor plan, or the pet accidents! Lots of factors contributed to ruining the perk, not just the OP’s allergies.

        Reply
        1. Dog

          Agreed. But all of them could have been given and held the OP’s issues under the hat. Then there would have been no one for the frustrated – and they have a right to be! That’s an added expense to them that they didn’t plan for if they want the same care for their dogs – colleagues.

          Reply
        2. Ankh-Morpork

          Honestly, I have no idea how this system worked at all. I’ve been to offices with one of two very well behaved dogs – but if there were enough dogs at the office that so many people were upset at her… My dog is ten and she still gets riled around a group of other dogs. She would run around like a spaz, and beg every single person to pet her. I just imagine a group of dogs running around and crashing into things. What if two dogs didn’t get along? It seems so disruptive.

          Reply
    2. Not Today Satan

      Agreed… I have claustrophobia and learned after starting my job that one of the spaces I’d work out of would be a small windowless office, connected to a windowless hallway. I’ve had a few panic attacks in there. Thankfully I was able to avoid working in that office long term.

      Reply
      1. Charlotte Lucas

        I like windows, but I would take that office in a heartbeat! (A truly open office plan is my nightmare. I already hate cubicles with a white-hot passion that burns like the sun.)

        Reply
    3. Mimmy

      Maybe I’m just cynical, but I imagine that, during a hiring process, an employer would tell the employees to not do nerf wars or other silly things during interviewing in case the applicant is given a tour. People are on their best behavior when trying to make an impression!

      Reply
  16. Mike C.

    Hey, related question – if a hiring manager is calling references and the reference is reading from an agreed upon statement/set talking points/etc, how does this happen without the hiring manager seeing red flags everywhere because they aren’t really able to ask probing questions?

    If this is off topic, I’ll drop it of course, but it just came to mind given the situation the OP was in.

    Reply
  17. AnotherAlison

    Congrats to the OP for getting out of there, and for the poised way she handled it. Bravo.

    I have two dogs, but people prioritizing pets over humans would not fly for me, either. I’m mildly allergic to dogs. Not to the extent of the OP, but I only have one shedder and one long-haired non-shedder at home. 14 hrs a day with 2 dogs vs. 10 hours a day with all my coworkers dogs. . .my allergies would definitely be put to the test, I think.

    Reply
  18. Julie

    This is possibly the greatest update I’ve ever seen? It sounds like it was an incredibly stressful time for you, OP, but thank you very much for capturing the events in such a vivid manner!

    And allergies are no joke – I hope your new job stays as dog-free as you want it to!

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      I agree, OP, what you went through was epic and you convey that quite well as you unfold the story for us. I admire your grace under fire and I admire your quick thinking. Yes, it was extremely hard but you did an excellent job of standing up for yourself.

      Reply
  19. starsaphire

    I am so glad you were able to find different work! What a relief for you. :)

    I too learned the hard way that HR is not in any way obligated to tell you the truth about what the ADA actually says, and that management sometimes lies to HR and to your face about workplace incidents. (At my most recent job, I was a fast-rising, stellar employee until the day after I asked for an ADA accommodation; by the next week I was a troublemaker, instigating a hostile work environment, getting written up for things I never said or did.)

    I’m so glad that you had the courage to stand up for yourself, and that you got out with your health intact! Great news! :)

    Reply
  20. Nobody Here By That Name

    Good for you for standing up for yourself, and great to hear you’re in a better environment now. What an awful place to work! If you’re not a vet office, there’s no excuse for dog pee smell where you work!

    Reply
  21. Dog

    You know… I hate that it sounds like victim blaming but to be honest, if I accepted a job knowing I could bring my dog to work and suddenly I could not anymore I would have been very angry. Going from $Free-99 a day to $22 a day is a LOT on a daily basis. I feel like the company could have compromised by giving you an office to close a door, or letting you work remotely more frequently.
    I do think they handled it poorly but I can see why they did.

    Reply
    1. Katie the Fed

      Terms of employment can change, and perks can go away. Perks don’t trump medical conditions, and if it bothered you (or OP’s coworkers) that much they’re free to find new jobs.

      Reply
      1. Dog

        I agree, just trying to say I see the point. It goes from Free dog care to $5500 a year for the same social interaction for your dog (assuming 5 days a week 50 weeks a year).

        I truly think the fault is squarely on the company – the coworkers should never have KNOWN it was because of the OP. Like I’ve said above, going to an open floorplan/replacing the carpets is reason enough. Then there is no one to blame because YAY everyone’s getting new furniture too, so you win some you lose some. But if you KNOW it’s because of ‘KAREN’ then I certainly understand why people would be frustrated.

        Reply
        1. Anonsie

          Like, ok. I’m a crazy dog lady. I love my dog more than any actual people I know, and that’s not hyperbole.

          But no way in hell do I pay for her to get extra social interaction every day by hiring a dog walker or taking her to day care. She doesn’t need it. Ain’t none of the dogs I’ve ever owned needed to have a walker come in every day for their entire life. I’ve looked into it now that she’s old and could benefit from additional potty breaks, but that’s a separate issue. You can’t claim the cost of doggy day cares or walkers are somehow a necessary expense that will be incurred by any dog owner that can’t take their pets to work, or that the company needed to consider this a loss of compensation because of it. That’s over the top.

          Reply
          1. Ad Astra

            People always think it’s extreme to love your dog more than some humans you know, but it’s pretty reasonable. People lie, cheat, manipulate, harass, and abuse other people, knowing full well that they’re hurting someone. Dogs are pure of heart and literally incapable of lying, cheating, or abusing their humans. I don’t know if I like my dog better than I like all humans, but I’d say the average dog is a way better “person” than the average human.

            Reply
            1. Ms. Anne Thrope

              The problem comes in when people take this idea from the abstract to the specific. “I care more about my dog’s happiness than your LIFE, Jane.” [and that ‘happiness’ is theoretical, let’s admit–dogs can be just fine sitting home on the couch]

              When people start going on about ‘My right to take my dog/cat wherever I go trumps your right to continue to live’ then it’s incredibly frustrating and demoralizing for those of us with asthma or other issues. And frankly, in my case at least, has resulted in a virulent hatred of cats. I’d be quite happy if every last housecat on earth suddenly up and died.

              Reply
              1. Amy

                Who takes their cat around with them? You’re not exactly coming off as the voice of reason for saying you want people’s beloved animals to die just because you presumably once met some weirdo who likes to walk their cat on a leash. Most cats would be miserable being taken around the way dogs are. You basically just told me you wished my sweet, innocent pets (who never leave our house to intrude upon the lives of the allergic) would die because… sometimes people are annoying?

                Reply
            2. Turtle Candle

              Hmm. I certainly love my cats more than I love a lot of human beings, but I wouldn’t say that I think that my cats have a greater right to public space, freedom of movement, or life than a human being. Do my cats give me more joy than a lot of people, especially strangers? Yes, of course. But that isn’t really… a sensible decision-making metric, I don’t think. “I am violently allergic to your animal” can’t reasonably be answered by “but my animal is a better ‘person’ than you are,” I don’t think.

              (Also, interesting side note: there is a growing body of scientific evidence that animals, especially intelligent animals like dogs, are perfectly capable of deception–that is, they are capable of lying and cheating by any reasonable and not overly anthropocentric definition of lying and cheating. I don’t disagree that most dogs are more, hm, ‘fair’ and ‘honest’ than most humans, but deception is pretty clearly not a purely human attribute.)

              Reply
              1. wanderlust

                I have empirical evidence that my cat is a sneaky cheater and a liar too. If I come home after my husband goes to bed, or if I leave early and he gets up while I’m gone, that damn cat can do the “nobody’s fed me yet and I’m starvingggg” act like nobody’s business. I’m ashamed to say he’s been fed twice on multiple occasions.

                Reply
                1. blackcat

                  Several times, my cat has managed to snag an unattended bag of treats. He knew we will take a bag away from him, so twice he hid the bag under the bed where we couldn’t reach it. It took days for us to find it the first time–we’d just see him out and about in the house, carrying around a treat or two, as if he was gloating.

                  Deception is his middle name.

                2. Ezri

                  Cats are master manipulators! We had to institute a policy where my husband is the ONLY dispenser of food, unless he is completely unavailable (i.e. out of town). Because I’m a huge sucker, apparently, and if I get home from work first they cry at me like they are staaaaarving. Then I found out they ate when husband left for work two hours ago. *facepalm*

                  Though, hilariously, our girl kitty has developed into a pretty good touchstone for when her brothers are lying. She doesn’t have a food obsession, and she only comes downstairs if it is really feeding time. If she’s nowhere to be seen, then I know the other two are being dramatic.

              2. Not So NewReader

                My dog steals stuff out of people’s pockets. He robbed me by eating a $10 bill I foolishly left on the table. He also moonlights as a “stripper”, he can take off his dog collar on his own. So much for wholesomeness.

                But some day, I will become the really cool person HE thinks I am. And for that, he stays here.

                Reply
              3. Anonsie

                That’s really aside from Ad Astra’s point, though. I prefaced my comment by saying I was crazy because I like my dog more than any specific person, and Ad was saying they didn’t think that was really that weird.

                This isn’t “I like my pet more than any person and they’re more important than the well being of those people,” it was just to qualify the following statement that I don’t believe you can claim dog day care or walkers are a standard pet care expense. As in, “I like my pet more than any person and I still don’t think that’s so normal that you can claim it as an assumed detriment to the pet owners in the OP’s situation.”

                Reply
                1. Green

                  I’m advocating for not calling people insane, crazypants, nuts, or implying that they’re bad people because they disagree on a completely unrelated subject (i.e., the moral relevance of animals, a discussion about which there is an awful lot of philosophical and ethics literature and a pretty interesting field of inquiry if you’re willing to take the time to consider other perspectives). On a separate note, I have a strong aversion to equating people with ideas you don’t like to the mentally ill; by using mental illness as an insult for “I don’t like it”, you further stigmatize a group of people who already face stigma.

                  It’s your blog, Allison, but I am entirely comfortable that I have articulated a request for decency. You can feel free to delete my comment if you like, but I definitely resent being put in the same “timeout” corner as AMG for completely different comments.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I’m not putting anyone in a time-out corner, and I tend to agree with you on this; I’m just asking that this stop and we move on, which means that all parties have to stop responding to each other :)

          2. KellyK

            Good point, though it depends on the dog and your commute. I think anything beyond nine hours is pushing it for most dogs, and even if they physically *can* hold it, not good for their bladders. My two (young, healthy) dogs seem to do fine for ten-hour stretches, since my husband and I both work nine-hour days. For our senior foster beagle, sometimes she makes it and sometimes she doesn’t (so she gets a couple days of daycare a week).

            But the company tried really hard to offset that inconvenience. They got a major discount with the doggie daycare to offset the loss of that perk, which they certainly weren’t obligated to do. Plus, as dog-loving as they seem to be, I doubt they would’ve been unwilling to make other accommodations, especially during the adjustment (e.g., “I need a long lunch break for a week or two until I can get a dog-walker,” or “I can’t work past X time because I need to let the dog out.”)

            Reply
            1. fposte

              There are also a lot of places where you can get dogwalkers, either New York–style professionals or babysitting-age kids, to come in and walk the dog, so the choice isn’t usually just to take the dog out for the day or leave it alone for nine hours.

              Reply
              1. Anonsie

                Those are insanely expensive– that’s actually what I was specifically referring to in my post before amended it for daycare, since that’s what Dog actually brought up. When I say I looked into it, I mean I looked at what it would cost to have someone come let my dog out to pee midday and then dismissed the idea forever and taught her to use potty pads. I’m talking $7000+ a year, man, hell– I will gladly do some training up front and clean up pee pads occasionally to keep that kind of money.

                Reply
                1. KellyK

                  Wow, that is insanely expensive. I use a professional (so licensed and insured and all that), and if I recall correctly, they charge $10 or $12 for a quick mid-day potty break, $20 for a full pet-sitting visit. I mean, that still gets pricey, but if you work 250 days a year (5 days times 50 weeks), it’s $2500-$3000 a year.

                2. Anonsie

                  Nope, around here you’re starting at $25 per visit. Usually $27. The kicker is, the boarding places and pro (licensed/insured) pet sitters around here charge $25-35 for full day & overnight pet care around here, so I have no idea how the average price for a walk manages to be the same. I have found individuals here or there who will do potty break only for $15ish but *only* if your house is near another, higher paying client to make the travel time worth it, or if you’re also paying for additional services.

                  Finding people to do odd jobs in my city is weirdly expensive. There are people who have prices that are more typical (compared to other cities) for just about everything, but the only way to find them is word of mouth in my experience. They’re not on Rover or whatever.

        2. Chocolate lover

          Except it *wasn’t* just because of the employee. There was carpet drenched in the stench of urine, and a flea problem. Sounds to me like some people were abusing the privilege of having their dogs at work, without adequately attending to them while they were there, in which case, it was a privilege they didn’t deserve to have.

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            I bet the CEO was actually kind of relieved that there was some catalyst that would let her take that perk away from her employees without completely feeling like a meanie. It must have been easier to say, “Hey, I’m standing up for someone who needs this,” instead of “It bothers me, so I’m taking away something you value.”

            I know some people have couched that as a weenie move, but I have some sympathy.
            She probably didn’t want to take the perk away, because so many people liked it. But once she found out that the dogs’ presence was actually hurting a person (and not just the carpet), it was an easier call, because it wasn’t just her preference.

            Reply
          2. New Commenter

            They could also, with some creativity, have come up with a divided floor plan with dog-friendly and no-dog areas, as someone posted above.

            Reply
        3. AVP

          Companies do that to your health insurance all the time, though. They change the rates or change their contribution and you have to pay the rest. It’s annoying, sure, but it happens frequently enough that we can deal with it without the pitchforks (or change jobs).

          Reply
      2. Myrin

        Seriously. There were some comments like this at the original post, too, and man. Of course it’s annoying/sad/upsetting/whatever to have something happen that inconveniences you when before there was a convenient option. That means you have to weigh inconveniences and situations against each other and realise that it might be a teensy bit more important for even a coworker you don’t know anything about or don’t have a particular relationship with to breathe than for you to bring your dog with you to work (which, by the way, is a setup I’ve never heard of in my life before this letter; pretty much everywhere else you’d have to shoulder that money for doggie daycare anyway). You should further realise that you can grumble about this situation to yourself or to your family but not to the coworker who is deathly allergic to dogs, much less actually make her life hell. Any reasonable and mature adult should be able to come to this conclusion. I’m sorry if this is harsh but I really don’t understand how anyone can empathise with the coworkers here.

        Reply
        1. Nicole

          I wholeheartedly agree with you. It’s one thing to be disappointed and want to vent outside of the work place, but to treat this poor person the way she was treated about something she has no control over? Very very low. It’s ultimately on the company for hiring someone without checking that working around dogs would work for them, but it’s also on these people to grow up and act like adults. Instead they resorted to high school behavior. Shame on all of them and anyone who sympathizes with them.

          Reply
        2. Dog

          Not trying to empathize, or justify their actions in any way. How they handled it was completely wrong – but the FEELING of frustration is legitimate on the coworkers parts. I 100% agree that they should have been mature adults and not taken it out on the OP, though.

          Reply
        3. Ad Astra

          Around the same time, AAM had a letter from someone whose job was suddenly requiring significantly more travel, which forced her to spend a lot of money boarding her dogs. The consensus was, iirc, that she should:
          1. See what she can do about reducing the travel
          2. Ask about any possible assistance paying for this new expense
          3. Consider finding a new job

          That’s what you do when the terms or perks of your job change in a way that doesn’t work for you. In the dog-friendly office workers’ situation, #1 was basically “sorry, can’t undo the policy [until OP leaves, maybe].” Option #2 resulted in a not-insignificant discount at a local doggie daycare. If that’s not enough, #3 is the option that makes sense.

          The writer of the dog-boarding letter was certainly a more sympathetic figure that this OP’s coworkers, but their course of action is the same. At no point did anyone suggest “Throw a fit and alienate someone who might or might not be responsible for this change you don’t like.”

          Reply
          1. TootsNYC

            Exactly! and depending on travel time these coworkers could have driven home to walk the dog; I have friends who did, and my dad did. (I couldn’t; my commute is too long.)

            People sometimes suddenly end up w/ children they have to pay someone to take care of. It’s not the company’s problem.

            Companies get to change the work parameters to match what works for them; you get to decide if you still want to work there.

            Reply
          2. Not So NewReader

            I walked away from a job once, that involved some travel, when I found out the person who did the job wasn’t going to do it anymore because she wanted to stay home with her elderly dog. I then deduced that it was way more travel than they were telling me AND hey, I have elderly dog, too. (I did at that time.) This all came out of one little comment made on the fly. But this is what job interviews are for, to sort all these things.

            Reply
        4. Doodle

          “You should further realise that you can grumble about this situation to yourself or to your family but not to the coworker who is deathly allergic to dogs, much less actually make her life hell.”

          This.

          I empathize with the *feelings* of the co-workers (at least I did originally), but their *response* to those feelings was just horrible. I would say that responding the way they did is “unprofessional” (which it is), but it’s beyond that — it’s cruel.

          Reply
    2. AnonAcademic

      “I do think they handled it poorly but I can see why they did.”

      Including the part where they trash talked the OP in the bathroom like a bunch of high schoolers? Are you implying that their motivation for doing so was reasonable frustration that their dog perk was taken away or did I misread?

      Reply
      1. Dog

        No, probably misworded – I definitely agree that the OP’s health trumps. I just don’t think that the colleagues should have even KNOWN that her health was a reason. The company handled it poorly through and through. But I do see why someone would be frustrated with a change – they just shouldn’t have been given a scapegoat to take it out on – which the company readily gave.
        It’s kind of human nature to ‘blame the new person who changed everything’ right? I mean, I certainly would be frustrated if my office got a new VP who wasn’t cool with the biz casual attire we have in our satellite here, and made us go to the suits/ties that they have at corporate. IT’s a perk, ya know? And, I’d have to buy way more clothes to be able to wear suits on a daily basis.

        Reply
        1. Dog

          Not saying the human nature to blame the new person is RIGHT by any means, just saying that it happens and I see why the colleagues were frustrated.

          Reply
          1. Anonsie

            But I do see why someone would be frustrated with a change – they just shouldn’t have been given a scapegoat to take it out on – which the company readily gave.

            I’m with you on that point. They shouldn’t have been given one, nor should they have WANTED to go after one because what the crap. But that’s what management set up here.

            And on your second point, I think that’s also true. Not as an excuse for the ludicrous behavior of her coworkers, but to highlight the extreme degree of the problem with management here. They knew good and damn well that they were giving the LW up as a sacrificial lamb for, judging by what she overheard, something they wanted already but couldn’t stomach due to the blowback they knew they would receive for it. They saw an out that allowed them to slip out on the backlash and they took it.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              They knew good and damn well that they were giving the LW up as a sacrificial lamb for, judging by what she overheard, something they wanted already but couldn’t stomach due to the blowback they knew they would receive for it. They saw an out that allowed them to slip out on the backlash and they took it.

              You nailed it.

              As I mentioned elsewhere in the thread, I’d be willing to bet that that’s why HR and the lawyers suddenly got so quiet and cooperative. As it is, they would have been facing an ADA suit that would almost certainly have gone to trial – and that’s expensive. With this added bit, I could see any jury giving the OP a huge award, because not only did they set him up, they also allowed staff AND HIS MANAGER to retaliate in an outrageous fashion.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                Exactly. It was *monumentally* stupid as well as cowardly. “Dogs have turned out to be a pain, but we’ll break the law to blame our new employee rather than tell the truth about their banning.”

                Reply
          2. CrazyCatLady

            I agree – they could have just made it an open office and redone the carpets (since there was PEE and fleas!!) and changed the policy due to the pee and fleas. Like… isn’t that more than enough reason to ban dogs from the office? Also, the doggie daycare situation isn’t a requirement. Many people leave their dogs at home and do just fine.

            Reply
          3. Well

            I agree with you.

            But there’s a difference between “frustrated” and “being so unreasonable about it that you’re bitching about it in the bathroom with Karen’s direct supervisor.” Sure, it’s understandable to be frustrated about it. But this is a place of work. You act like a professional and deal with it, and if it’s too much to deal with long-term, you find another job. At worst you grab drinks with your close co-worker friends and complain about it in private.

            The response of her coworkers isn’t just inappropriate, it’s batshit crazy. People stopping by her desk to tell her she’s not a good culture fit? Dis-inviting her from work meetings?

            The fact that management was at best turning a blind eye to this, and at worst complicit in it, is…well, I don’t have any adjectives that go beyond “batshit” on my crazy spectrum, but it’s somewhere waaay off to the right on the crazy-scale.

            Reply
        2. Ad Astra

          Well, to your point, many of us did predict that OP’s coworkers would blame her for their lost perk. But civilized, professional people would be capable of understanding that she’s not to blame and would continue treating her the same way they treat their other colleagues. Part of being a fully evolved human is not letting your feelings dictate your behavior. It’s really disappointing that there’s apparently an office full of people who are completely unable to do that.

          Reply
          1. Dog

            Yes but many people I’ve encountered in my life aren’t fully evolved humans… like every jerk in rush hour traffic…

            Reply
          2. Observer

            Considering that plenty of CHILDREN manage to deal just fine with stuff that’s equally disappointing, I’m not sure you have to be “FULLY evolved.” You just need to want to act with more maturity than the cat your dog probably hates.

            Reply
        3. TootsNYC

          I hope HR didn’t announce who it was, but if they bought her a HEPA filter for her desk, there’s no way to hide that.

          Reply
    3. Hermione

      Sorry, but I strongly disagree here, and I Do think you’re blaming the victim. If I had accepted a job under the assumption that it wouldn’t endanger my health and then found out that a big thing like dogs being in the office wasn’t disclosed to me before I started, I would have been very angry. This should have been disclosed upfront, and strong, reasonable accommodations should have been made otherwise. If that accommodation means that you couldn’t bring your pet with you any longer, well I’m sorry, but my health trumps you bringing your dog to work. An office with a closed door – that you therefore cannot leave because the rest of the office is covered in dogs, dog hair and dander – isn’t an good enough accommodation for someone with a severe allergy. Not immediately stopping people from derogatory comments is not okay. Management handled this horribly, but people condemning and ostracizing the OP for having a reasonable health issue that she cannot control are way beyond the pale.

      Also, it sounds like the owners secretly wanted the dogs gone – carpets that stink of urine and flea problems? Who realistically wants to work in a place like that?

      Reply
      1. Dog

        I agree with you. The dogs should have been disclosed up front – many people would think it’s a perk, so not really sure WHY the company hid it? It just doesn’t make sense.

        And again, I am NOT trying to victim blame here. I just can really see why the colleagues are frustrated. The company handled it all around poorly in multiple ways by
        1 – not disclosing that it’s a dog friendly environment in advance of a job offer
        2 – not keeping the complaint private and allowing colleagues to know that ANY of the policy change was influenced by the OP

        Honestly, it sounds like the company wanted to change the policy but didn’t want to be the ‘bad guy’ so they pointed the finger at the OP.

        Reply
        1. Kyrielle

          I’m not sure how well they could’ve hidden the changes, considering they were moving the OP around and otherwise trying to help mitigate before they banned the dogs, and considering that the OP’s allergies were obvious, and thus familiar to coworkers. It sounds like they did say it was because of the remodel, but the coworkers correctly read between the lines.

          Reply
        2. CADMonkey007

          3 – not shutting down the childish, unprofessional behavior of the employees!

          This really makes me think the problem child was actually the boss. She was instigating much of this unprofessional behavior when she was the one that should have been shutting it down! I hope she got her ass handed to her by HR after that meeting.

          Reply
          1. F.

            The senior management either didn’t know about the mobbing behavior by the clique of disgruntled dog owners or didn’t have the cajones of a flea to stand up and stop the behavior in the first place, starting with the OP’s boss. The sad part of this is, that this is probably not the first time an unpopular employee had been bullied and mobbed at this place, nor will it be the last until management gets their act together. Perhaps knowing they dodged a lawsuit might scare them into action. (but I wouldn’t count on it.)

            Reply
            1. Observer

              If the higher ups didn’t know about it, HR is incompetent, and apparently so is their legal team. HR definitely knew about many of the problems, and legal definitely knew about some of them and had to know that this was a big brewing probpems. It may not be HR’s job to make everyone be “nice. But, it IS their job to keep “not nice” from putting the company at risk. Not telling the boss how bad things were getting, and making the risk clear, was a real failure on their part.

              Reply
        3. Isabel

          Team @Dog here. (And Team Dog in almost every situation).

          I’ve been a freelancer for a decade and am not exaggerating when I say I have been considering moving across the country for a full-time job at a dog-friendly office and culture. Yes, the company is responsible for not letting her know about the dogs. I honestly think the best, and least costly route would have been to offer severance and apologies at the first disclosure. Should coworkers have lurked around the water cooler making mean comments? Of course not. But both the sudden lack of dogs and the conflict itself resulted in a big hit to company morale.

          And I am so sorry to do this to my fellow dog lovers, but before you dismiss the necessity of dog care, consider watching some YouTube videos about “what my dog does while I am at work.” Many people who leave a camera on find that the dog they assume slept all day in their absence instead stared at the front door, for all 9 hours. Or worse.

          A dog friendly office is a beautiful thing! For the like-minded who work there, no guilt, lower blood pressure, less depression and a lot more laughter than at the average workplace. I think this is a thing worth preserving. Not at the LW’s expense, but by disclosing in interviews and by spending more on cleaning. A dog friendly company like that could pay me 20% less than I’d take to work full time without my dog.

          All that said, my dog is literally, scientifically and certifiably the best dog, so.

          Reply
            1. Isabel

              To clarify, I did not mean I would suggest firing the new hire. I meant I think it would have been best to offer severance as an option. “We are so sorry you were not told about the dog-culture here. That was a mistake on our part. We’ve asked everyone to make other arrangements and are having the carpet cleaned/removed. We can also offer you the option of this severance package if you feel this isn’t the right fit or are worried about lingering allergens.”

              LW deserves to be compensating for the expense of looking for a new job. But would letting the LW go, with severance, be in breach of the law? People have pointed out the gray area here, including HR at the company in question (at the meeting in which the LW pulled the fake-lawyer card, something I have also done on very rare occasion). If LW was employed in at at-will state, would this be in breach?

              Reply
              1. Creag an Tuire

                Yes. You can’t force somebody to leave because of a disability if you can make a reasonable accommodation, and unless you are a kennel (or the disability center in the other thread), removing dogs is reasonable.

                Reply
    4. AmyNYC

      I see your point, Dog – If I took a job where I could bring Fido in and not have to pay a walker, then the policy changes and it will cost me $5500 a year – I’d be angry.
      OP – you did EVERYTHING RIGHT, the company (and your horrible coworkers) were wrong, but it seems like this outcome leaves no one happy.

      Reply
      1. Windchime

        Be angry–but not at the OP. She was hired with no knowledge that the workplace would be full of dogs, dog hair and dander. I’m not allergic to dogs or cats, but I am very sensitive (allergic?) to many perfumes. When I get a big whiff, it’s like I’ve been kicked in the chest. I can’t breathe and I want to cough simultaneously. It’s a terrible feeling, and I’m guessing that it’s even worse for the OP and her legitimate allergy.

        So if there is anger, let it be toward the company who didn’t disclose that they were dog friendly, and then used the OP as a scapegoat when they wanted to get rid of having dogs in the office.

        Plus….what’s with the $5500 doggy daycare? Seriously? That seems like a huge amount of money. This is why I have a cat. He is quite happy to nap all day long in his cat tree.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          Studies show that in groups or families it is easier to get angry with a lower ranking person than it is to get angry with a person with power. The group or family can tend to target the lower, powerless individual. Since this is a well known human weakness, the company should have taken steps to protect OP. Instead they made a massive fail.

          Reply
    5. Marcy Marketer

      My company went from being dog friendly to not after a couple of incidents involving aggressive pets & clients whose religions prevented them from touching dogs (and dogs who wouldn’t just lay in one place but insisted on sniffing clients and not responding to their owner’s vocal commands to go lay back down).

      I rescued a dog immediately after accepting the position on the basis of this benefit, and was disappointed when it went away, but not furious by any means. I thought people would be more upset than they ended up being, and it didn’t end up being a moral problem at all for the office.

      Reply
      1. Dog

        My old company had stories of being dog friendly ‘back in the day’ but had to do away with it as they got bigger/more people brought them in because dogs would be aggressive to each other.

        It’s just not sustainable in a company that’s not small, I think.

        Reply
        1. ElCee

          Yup. I love dogs and would love to work in a canine-friendly office, but I could never bring my dog in as he is fear-aggressive. It’s one of those things that can only work in specific circumstances, and I think you’re right in that 99% of the time it can really only be a small office.

          Reply
    6. Sassy AAE

      Are you serious? C’mon, the carpet had pee all in it, and the office had fleas. This isn’t one person’s fault. Or if it is, it’s not OP, it’s the bad apples who totally took advantage of the system. Even if I had the option, I wouldn’t bring my dog to work, because I’m working at work. I have no downtime to snuggle/nap, and wrangling the little lady to and fro each day sounds like a major hassle.

      Also, who needs doggie daycare on a normal 9 to 5 schedule (barring medical reasons)? Most dogs are completely fine being left alone. My pets are my kids, but they aren’t literal children.

      Reply
      1. Dog

        Well yes, I’m just pointing out that I do see why they are frustrated. That the OTHER reasons should have been the only reasons the colleagues knew about, due to them being sufficient reasons. It sounds like the company wanted to change it but didn’t want to be the bad guy, and the OP was a convenient scapegoat.

        Reply
    7. The IT Manager

      I agree with your sentiment (that people who love the perk will hate losing it and a percentage of the them will blame the person allergic for the loss), but, really, the dogs can stay at home for free. Doggy day care should be unnecessary most of the time.

      Reply
      1. Dog

        Mine actually stays home 5 days a week. He has a doggy door and according to his doggy fitbit (I know, I am that person) he is quite active during the day!
        I do have a dog walker that comes on days I work longer than the general 8 hours.

        Reply
      2. sam

        I don’t think dogs belong in an office, but my family has never owned a dog that could go an entire work day without being walked. Of course, if you live in a house with a fenced in backyard, maybe this isn’t as much of an issue, but us apartment-dwelling denizens who work upwards of 10-12 hours a day keep the NYC dog-walking/pet-sitting industry well-employed.

        Reply
          1. Shell

            One of my friends busted her ankle last week and is hiring a dog walker until it heals. The rate is $40 for 1-1.5 (can’t remember which) hours of walking.

            $5500 a year sounds totally realistic for dog walking if it’s frequent. Might even be low.

            Reply
    8. Gingervitis

      In that case, OP’s coworkers should have been angry with their superiors – they are the ones that hired her and didn’t think it was necessary to mention that they had a dog-friendly office. OP cannot help that she has a dog allergy and there was no reason to treat her like a pariah.

      Reply
      1. Tomato Frog

        Yeah. Totally reasonable and normal to be upset and even mad that an integral part of your work culture was taken away. Not okay to ostracize OP over it. Anyway, considering the number of cruel idiot employees there, I don’t really think it had a great culture with or without dogs.

        Reply
      2. Dog

        I agree. My point is that the superiors shouldn’t have a – disclosed the dog friendliness first and this would have all been avoided, but barring that they didn’t option b would have been to NOT disclose that part of the policy change was influenced by the OP’s health.

        Reply
    9. Charityb

      That makes sense for individual employees to be upset, but it seems nuts to take it out on someone for having a pet allergy, which isn’t voluntary or intentional on their part. Frankly, the blame should be aimed at management for making the situation clear to the OP when they were applying or interviewing for the job, and for mismanaging their response so thoroughly that it created this toxic environment. Their decision to unleash all of this venom against the OP for the horrific crime of… having an allergy (!) is indefensible in my opinion. Their anger is understandable; their reaction is hideous.

      Reply
    10. Kyrielle

      If you read the original post, they tried to restructure the office, and to do other things, but they *didn’t work*. OP needed to breathe. Shame on the company for not touting that they were “dog friendly” before OP started, so they’d have known not to take the position.

      For the record, other than remote work full time, or complete removal of the dogs, I don’t see another solution that would have been sufficient with allergies as severe as the OP described.

      I can understand disappointment and frustration, but still, people’s right to breathe is more important.

      Reply
      1. misspiggy

        I think that’s an interesting aspect of all this – people can get disproportionately hostile around disability when it requires them to make changes.

        My theory is that it’s not the actual inconvenience. Some people can’t handle being confronted by how fragile the human body is. If another person is really likely to die just by being around a few dogs, what does that say about my chances? Some people instead choose to believe that the person with disabilities is an attention seeker or trying to cause disruption. Which makes it easier to understand the bullying – these people wanted to believe that OP was a bad person who lies, so they reinforced that by exaggeratedly treating her like a bad person who lies.

        Sadly one gets exposed to these aspects of human behaviour more when one has a disability. Some medical people become hostile when my pain becomes overtly crippling. They act quite repulsed and angry, especially if I tell them that x treatment isn’t working. It seems easier for them to blame me for … something… than to accept that there’s not a lot we can do about many physical weaknesses.

        Reply
        1. Turtle Candle

          I think that’s absolutely true. A lot of people are upset by the “there but for the grace of God go I” element of disease/injury/disability, because it means that they might find that their own body will ‘betray’ them at some point. But rather than face up to that very human fact, a lot of people will go to great lengths to either try to find a way that it’s your ‘fault’ (and therefore they don’t have to worry because they’re ‘good’ and won’t suffer the same fate) or to claim that you’re exaggerating and/or making it up (and therefore they don’t have to worry because the ailment is invented). And the latter seems especially common in response to things like allergies and invisible disabilities.

          Reply
        2. Not So NewReader

          My husband’s oncologist was terrified of my husband. His (former) GP would not even touch him for any reason. Some people’s circuits just switch to overload and then we see behaviors like this. Both doctors should have just retired.

          Reply
        3. Boo

          I realise that by now probably nobody is reading this thread but I think this is an excellent point. It’s the same mentality which causes people to suddenly avoid/ignore colleagues who are being made redundant; as if they think their bad luck/poor health etc could be infectious.

          Reply
    11. Adam V

      I’m sorry, I guess I just don’t understand this. Why are the only options “bring the dog to work” or “bring the dog to a doggie daycare”?

      If you’ve got a dog you can’t leave alone, then maybe you’re in as tough of a spot as the OP (both of you need to take dog-friendliness or dog-free-ness of a workplace into account) – but the difference is that you volunteered for yours.

      (And let’s not forget that this company hid the dog-friendliness of this job during the interviewing process, whereas if they’d mentioned it, even as an offhanded comment, this never would have happened. Hell, they should have put it in the initial job ad so that the OP doesn’t waste her time applying for something that would never work for her.)

      Reply
      1. Dog

        That’s not the only option. Just saying that if they wanted the comparable, exact same care for the dog it’d be doggy day care 5 days a week.

        For what it’s worth my dog stays home 8-9 hours a day and is happy as a clam with his doggy door, according to his doggy fit bit.

        Just trying to see the other side of the picture here, you know? I certainly agree that the OP is better off and handled it perfectly. But, we only ever get one side of the story, not that there really are two sides, but we cannot see how the other colleagues were motivated. Again, I don’t think they should have known about the OP – I think that the changes/renovations were sufficient reason. I don’t think the company should have disclosed the OP’s complaints to her peers.

        Reply
        1. Adam V

          The only other side of the picture I could see that could trump “if I’m around dogs, I could die without the proper medication” is “my dog is a certified service dog and I can’t be without him/her”.

          I agree that the company should have been upfront about having dogs in the office, and I agree that the company should never have made it public that OP’s allergies were at all related to any changes (although when the OP gets a HEPA air purifier and probably stands out by avoiding everyone’s dogs, odds are they would have made a connection anyway).

          I disagree that losing this benefit is worthy of uproar or anger. Frustration, sure, I’ll grant you temporary frustration. But it’s like Katie the Fed says – if you took the job knowing it’s a benefit you want, or you got used to having it over your time there, and one day they announce they’re getting rid of it, you have the option to tell them “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to look elsewhere for employment then” or you can just deal with it.

          And personally, I’d like to think that if I were the CEO, I would have gotten a list of everyone who was rude to the OP, called the OP and each of them into my office, and forced them to apologize to her or else get fired… and then fired some of them anyway – at least her boss and the person who made the false HR claim about being yelled at.

          Reply
          1. Izzy

            Just curious, does anyone know if service dogs are hypoallergenic breeds or if their owners/handlers take any measures to reduce the shedding and dander? I know some dogs are more allergenic than others, I remember that being a factor when the Obamas chose a pet because one of their daughters is allergic IIRC.

            Reply
            1. TootsNYC

              My impression is that service dogs come from every breed. They’re qualified not because of their breed but because of their individual intelligence and temperament.

              Maybe guide dogs for the blind have to be a certain physical size (above the knees of most people) so that they can press against someone without unbalancing them by being too low), but that’s it.

              Reply
            2. VintageLydia USA

              I know goldendoodles and other poodle mixes are popular for service dogs for this reason (among others.) But no dog is TRULY hypoallergenic. Just some are less allergenic than others and someone with allergies as severe as OP may not be able to be around any of them.

              Reply
            3. fposte

              There’s no one-size-fits-all on service dogs, but a lot of the most popular service dog breeds, such as Labs, aren’t hypoallergenic. Whether owners bathe the dog more or not is up to the owners, but in general I doubt they’re prioritizing the dander issue unless somebody they share long-term space with has an issue.

              Reply
            4. Turtle Candle

              At least when it comes to seeing eye dogs (the service dogs with which I am most common), most of them are not hypoallergenic breeds. Labs, retrievers, and German Shepherds are extremely common, and AFAIK none of them are hypoallergenic.

              I have known of one situation where a service dog and a violently allergic person were working in the same department, and handling the situation took considerable workarounds, because from a legal (not to mention, ethical) POV neither took precedence. The two were given offices on different floors and used different elevators/stairwells, and for meetings where they both had to be present, the blind person was escorted without her service dog to the meeting room and sat at the opposite end of the table to avoid contamination from inevitable dog hair/dander on her clothes. It took a lot of work, and was mildly inconvenient for both the blind person and the allergic person, but did work out in the end. (I have a hard time seeing how it could work out for multiple non-service dogs in a general office environment, though; the limited nature of it was part of what made it work.)

              Reply
              1. fposte

                To clarify, you’re talking about guide dogs, which are the dogs that serve the blind; Seeing Eye is a particular foundation (hence the caps) that trains guide dogs, and they train only German Shepherds. In general, sporting dogs (the retrievers, mostly) are the most popular type of dog in guide dog programs because they’re easier for most handlers than herding dogs like German Shepherds. (Service Dog Central says Labradors are currently the most popular.)

                And I love me some sporting dogs, but they are not bred for indoor sensibilities.

                Reply
                1. Turtle Candle

                  Yes, good clarification; I have an immediate family member with a Seeing Eye dog (a German Shepherd, as you say), and another with a guide dog that is not Seeing Eye (a white lab). I was using a casual colloquial term in this context.

                  (Having two immediate family members with guide dogs and a third with a fairly severe dog allergy means that this kind of negotiation is something I deal with on a frequent basis!)

                2. Turtle Candle

                  Hahaha, yeah! That’d be, uh… fun.

                  In a family context it’s actually quite workable because everyone involved there wants to make it work. Like, my guide-dog-having in-laws don’t want to make my allergic brother’s throat close up, and he doesn’t want to inconvenience them either. So it’s mostly a matter of discussion and pre-planning without people taking it personally. There are occasional goofs (one time a room that was supposed to be left dog-free for some period of time to reduce allergens ended up not being dog-free, because we didn’t know that the extremely clever guide dogs knew how to open doors…), but goodwill and honest attempts make accommodation work 90% of the time, and the remaining 10% can be dealt with as it comes up without hard feelings.

                  If there wasn’t goodwill, it’d be a muuuuuuuuch harder problem.

              2. Anonymouss

                Thank you for preemptively answering this question for me. I was wondering what would happen when service dog met severe allergy.

                Reply
            5. Anon85

              No, most service dogs are not hypoallergenic. Further, even the dogs that are dubbed to be so, such as poodles, can set off some people with different allergies. For some, it’s more about the coat oil than dander.

              This post is of particular interest to me, since I DO have a service dog that has to be with me and is a long-coated breed. I do have a coworker who is allergic to dogs, so we use different floors/different entrances….but I do wonder what would happen in a new job (or with a new coworker) if someone was allergic to my service dog. I literally cannot go without her :(

              Reply
        2. ReanaZ

          Yeah, but when one side of the story is “serious health issue and being bullied because of it” and one side is “mild inconvenience”, you sound like a bit of an ass for insisting we “just try to see the other side of the picture, you know”?

          Sure, you can look at the devil and think “That guy needs an advocate” but… it doesn’t reflect positively on you, you know?

          Reply
          1. Not So NewReader

            Nothing justifies abusing another person. Once the abuse started, I felt no urge to see their side of the story. They lost whatever few points they had with me.

            Not much different that a child that screams for ice cream or candy. No. Just NO.

            Reply
    12. KVaren

      The coworkers had the opportunity and plenty of time to try to work together to come up with a way to accommodate the OP and they failed miserably. Their new dog sitting expenditure is their own doing.

      “Even working from home one day a week has been a stretch and caused some negative feelings on my team, even though they hear me sneezing every 20 minutes when I’m there!”

      If they would have been cool with OP working from home, this could have been solved.

      Reply
    13. Observer

      Dog, you can see why they handled it “poorly”? Accusing someone of discriminating against dogs with skin conditions is “handling it poorly”, but rather hard to understand. Overt and pointedly rude social ostracism is “handling it poorly”, although it sounds more like a bunch of unregulated adolescents than a work place. Lieing to people is another whole kettle of fish, as is actively sabotaging a person’s work. That’s ridiculous and inexcusable.

      As for the manager, her behavior is not just inexcusable, but also flamingly irresponsible. The reality is that the boss had decided that dogs had to be banned because they needed to reconfigure the office, for one thing, and for another the dogs were causing damage. The manager KNEW THIS! And she STILL acted like a vindictive witch.

      Very little here is “understandable.”

      Reply
    14. Observer

      Going from $Free-99 a day to $22 a day is a LOT on a daily basis.

      My heart bleeds. Here’s the deal – dogs are generally a luxury, and for most dogs full day doggy-sitting is a luxury on top of a luxury. If you can afford that, then stop whining. You are in a lot better shape than a LOT of people.

      You know who *I* feel bad for? The people who had decent healthcare coverage, and then suddenly found themselves faced with changes that took thousands of dollars a year out of their pockets in premiums and co-pays. This is not about ObamaCare – this stuff happened before ObamanCare, too.

      THAT stinks, because healthcare is not a luxury.

      Reply
      1. Katie the Fed

        **applause**

        I love my dog but I draw the limit at doggy day-care, doggy massages, or really anything beyond the necessities of being a dog.

        Reply
      2. caryatid

        this is kind of where i’m coming from – the whole reason i do not have a dog is because i can’t afford one and all the care it requires (vet, grooming, boarding, daycare, etc).

        i get that it would suck to lose a perk but i would never get a dog based on that perk – what if my situation changed, etc.

        Reply
        1. Katie the Fed

          They really are expensive. My last vacation it cost the dog more to board than for me and my husband (but we were in asia and lodging was cheap. Still though…)

          Reply
      3. Not So NewReader

        You read my mind. My insurance for next year went up 150%. My insurance is now SIXTEEN times what I was paying nine years ago. When I do a 14 hour work day, I may or may not find someone to check on him. If he pees on the linoleum, oh well, I wipe it up, sanitize it and life goes on. But doggy day care is not an option in my life.

        Reply
  22. Turanga Leela

    Congrats on the new job, OP, and on handling this situation really well. It sounds like it was awful, but you’re out of there now, and you have an amazing story to tell for the rest of your life.

    Also, FWIW, I see no ethical problem with implying that you’ve spoken to a lawyer. You had at least a colorable ADA claim here, and it was fair to tell the company’s lawyers that you knew that.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      And I actually did consult with two lawyers on the OP’s behalf (the two lawyers in the original post). So she did have two lawyers weigh in on her situation, although in a fairly basic way.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        Yeah, I’m not sure I find that claim even that morally questionable – OP “consulted with two employment lawyers” (via the medium of consulting with you and having you consult with them, and quote them, explicitly and by name with credentials and all!). Maybe that’s not what OP expected as the result of writing, but they were directly consulted about OP’s situation based on OP’s request and words…that sounds to me like it meets the technical definition, even if it sounds way more shiny-official than how it actually happened.

        Bottom line, OP knew the claim was credible, knew they had a leg to stand on, and knew it because two lawyers with appropriate specialties were in fact consulted about OP’s specific situation, and OP saw their words quoted presumably-verbatim. That’s…really about what OP claimed, even if yes, HR probably assumed OP had talked to them on the phone or in person with more specific details.

        Reply
      2. Case of the Mondays

        I’m a lawyer and I tell potential clients that don’t have a big enough case to make it worth their money that they are free to tell the opposing party they “consulted with a lawyer and know . . . .” Totally ethical. Third party advice counts too.

        Reply
  23. Umvue

    This update is amazing and kind of terrible — I cannot believe this workplace — but also kind of awesome because the OP handled the whole thing inspiringly well. You weren’t going to pull off a victory here, not with these wackaloons, but you put the fear of Dog in ’em and you have a better job, presumably with people for whom eighth grade graduation is a distant memory and not a line item on their year-end goals list. I’m really impressed.

    Reply
  24. Tau

    Oh my god, that is ridiculous, I am so sorry that happened to you. Sending you all the best wishes for your new, dog-free job!

    Reply
  25. North

    oh, WOW. See, I am That Person about dogs – I would looooooove to bring my dog to work, and would love to have dogs around, and would probably be seriously pissed if that benefit ended.

    But what the actual fruitbat, people. You don’t treat another human being like that.

    Reply
  26. Dang

    Wow, OP, I’m completely floored that one company can have that many a-holes.

    I’m glad to hear you were able to move on. These people were unbelievably ridiculous. This is one of the weirdest experiences I’ve read on this blog and I’m so glad you were able to leave it behind.

    I’m also laughing to myself, picturing what the your hiring manager must have thought about your old company when he heard that story during your interview. I mean, you can’t make stuff like that up.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      It is my experience that a lot of ‘dog people’ who are militant about ‘dogs are people too’ — we have several people in my family — are also quite inconsiderate of other people. They want their dogs in your house on your couch; they think it is fine to walk their dog to poop and pee on other people’s lawns and take offense if asked not to do so; they think their dogs should be able to go to any event or into any setting. I don’t want some dog’s nose in my crotch, in my house or on my furniture, in my car or grabbing at my plate at a picnic — I like well behaved dogs and used to have one — but if people can’t keep their dog from jumping on, harassing, grabbing food from etc other people then they don’t belong in social settings. and they never belong as uninvited guests at other people’s houses.

      Reply
      1. Not So NewReader

        My husband grew up in a no pet family, so he did not know some of the basics. I explained to him that when we walk the dog we keep the dog close to us, as there are people that will go ballistic just because our dog SNIFFED their plant. There’s all kinds of people out there. We met a person that invited our dog over to run around in their Extremely Large fenced in back yard.
        Until I know a bit about how the person feels about dogs, I assume that they do not want my dog around and I act accordingly.

        Reply
  27. Mark in Cali

    What a horrible place. I’m considered a “millennial,” but I don’t think people should bring dogs to work. Sounds like you worked with a bunch of crazy “cat ladies,” except I guess they were dog people not cat people.

    Reply
    1. anonanonanon

      I don’t really think generations have anything to do with it since there are people from all age ranges who are for or against pets at work.

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        Yup. We were mega-bedogged at one of my old jobs, and the policy was put in place when our 60-something then-president was hired and instituted it. She’s a huge dog lover.

        Reply
      2. Windchime

        Yes. We have an unofficially dog-friendly office. People don’t bring dogs every day, but when there are special circumstances it’s not unusual to see/hear a dog in the office. Owners are expected to contain their dogs, so you’ll see baby gates across office doors or blocking the end of a cubicle row. Dogs are expected to be quiet and not cause a distraction, and any “incidents” must be quickly and thoroughly taken care of.

        Reply
        1. anonanonanon

          Yeah, I adore dogs but I’m very much of the mind that while I adore my dogs, I don’t want to deal with anyone else’s dogs (or children) when I’m at work. Plus, there are always those dog/cat owners (or parents) who have horribly trained pets and just like I wouldn’t want to babysit anyone’s kid, I don’t want to deal with anyone’s poorly behaved pet at work. As much as I’d love to bring them to work, I’d probably be worrying that they’d accidentally drool on someone (and trust me, even I don’t want to deal with Newfie dog drool on my work clothes, so I’m sure my coworkers wouldn’t appreciate it either).

          Plus, I’ve learned that some people will say they’re dog lovers, but only certain types of dogs. One of my friends works in an office that has a small dog only policy.

          Reply
    2. Oryx

      As a woman who owns two cats and considers them her children, I’d like to point out that I don’t like being generalized for my pets any more than you like being generalized for your age.

      Reply
      1. Mark in Cali

        Yep but people still do it, don’t they?

        I was merely implying that bringing pets to work is NOT an old-fashioned work practice and that it’s more associated with the changing expectations of the workforce today which happens to be made up of millennials.

        To your point though, you wouldn’t bring your children to work? You would pay for daycare or stay home or have a partner watch the child at home. Of course I”m going to get nailed by the people with support animals for this comment or the few that are allowed to nurse at their office . . .

        Reply
        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I might be reading it wrong, but I think maybe Oryx was just pointing out that people should stop using the phrase “crazy cat lady,” even in jest. That’s just how I took it, though.

          Reply
      2. ted mosby

        No one is generalizing you. Not every cat owner is a “crazy cat lady.” And Mark wasn’t complaining about anything. He was just saying that he doesn’t like a practice that a lot of his generation seems to love.

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          I am aware that not every cat owner is the same, but Mark’s talking about a generalization that is applied to his generation which is a part of but he wants to separate himself from it, hence his use of “air quotes” but then he turns around and makes a generalization about a completely different group. It just left a bad taste in my mouth is all.

          Reply
          1. Mark in Cali

            My god, can’t we take “crazy cat lady,” in the spirit it was said.

            Didn’t you lump yourself into the “crazy cat lady” group by responding the way you did? My idea of a crazy cat lady is one with 20+ cats who lives on welfare and house smells like a zoo. Seems you consider yourself a crazy cat lady with only two.

            People generalize. I don’t know why we live in this world where we have to be so sensitive to everyone. It’s impossible. I’m sure many are generalizing me as a jerk at this point, but it’s the internet so I don’t really care.

            Anyway, I don’t care if you think I’m a millennial or not. I’m not going out of my way to separate myself from “that group.” I just don’t think dogs (or cats) should be in an office.

            Reply
            1. ted mosby

              Using the phrase “crazy cat lady” doesn’t make you a jerk Mark. This is beyond ridiculous. People can’t be so sensitive and expect the world to adjust.

              Reply
            2. DMented Kitty

              I have a network of rescue people who proudly call themselves “crazy cat people” (heck, some of the ladies actually dressed up as “crazy cat ladies” on Halloween). It’s more on the sense of – “we’re crazy about cats!” rather than someone who hoards cats to the point of being detrimental to both parties. :)

              I have two cats, and my husband looks at me pointedly whenever some “crazy cat lady” thing appears on TV and I smile proudly. I really don’t want to put too much emotion to that phrase. My cats would probably eat my face someday but hell I’m wearing my badge proudly.

              Reply
          2. ted mosby

            But he is NOT saying he wants to be separated from his generation. He is just saying he doesn’t want pets in his office. He doesn’t care if people call him a millennial or not. And, like I said above, he is also not generalizing ALL cat owners, because clearly not everyone who owns a cat is crazy, and he never implied that.

            Reply
  28. alex

    This sounds crazy, but I don’t understand the cultural fit rebuttal–, it sounds like LW’s a good fit for the work itself but not a good cultural fit at all since she hates the way they run the office. Maybe I don’t understand the phrase “cultural fit,” though.

    Reply
      1. Turtle Candle

        And it is especially terrible to tell someone that they are a bad culture fit due to a non-voluntary personal attribute. (And not only terrible but stupid if that personal attribute is related to membership in a protected class.)

        Reply
    1. Kassy

      I think the phrase is being abused here. “Cultural fit” should have a broader aspect to it – the culture is to start meetings right on the dot and OP habitually gets lost in her work and is late, or culture is for everyone to make polite chitchat and OP prefers never to speak on non-business matters…I admit these are not great examples. This is more “we don’t like this thing you did” disguised as a “cultural fit issue.”

      Reply
      1. Ad Astra

        Exactly. Was the job a great fit for OP? No, maybe not (although the company witheld important information that would have helped her assess that for herself). But that doesn’t mean OP wasn’t a good fit for the job. The culture of a dog-friendly office might be relaxed, informal, collaborative, possibly even sporty, outdoorsy, or environmentally conscious. “Not allergic to dogs” is not a cultural trait.

        Reply
    2. Apprehensive

      I tend to agree. While the company could have handled things MUCH better…I feel like in the same situation, I would have started looking for something new and not expected to come in one day and take over/change the culture of the place. No, I wouldn’t have HAD to leave, and no one could probably legally have forced me to go, but I would try to leave simply as a matter of courtesy. I imagine the company and employees would have been much more supportive of keeping her on until she found something else than fighting it out with her the way they did.

      Reply
      1. Kyrielle

        OP was looking, but doctors said the allergies could get much worse with continued exposure. OP couldn’t afford to quit without a new job (I assume, or she presumably would have!), and didn’t need to have the allergies escalate to “life threatening even with medication” – so yes, not knowing how long finding a new job would take, getting the dogs out of the office until it was achieved was necessary.

        Reply
      1. MashaKasha

        I’ve been scrolling through this thread looking for a good place to comment that OP should consider it a compliment, a badge of honor in fact, that she’s not a cultural fit at her old job.

        Reply
    3. Window Seat Anon

      I had the same reaction alex. I thought it sounded like OP was a really good fit for the work, just not that particular office.
      I agree with others above, if the company had been upfront about the dog friendly workplace from the start all this could’ve been avoided for the OP (or anyone else applying for their open jobs). While I totally understand the anger and frustration of the former co-workers, I do not agree with how they acted and how they treated the OP. The real bad guy in all of this was the company, for not mentioning the perk of the dog friendly workplace, and for letting the situation blow up like it did, making OP the scapegoat for everyone else’s anger.

      Reply
      1. Ordinary World

        I absolutely agree: the company messed this up on multiple fronts, making a tough situation much worse.

        However, I do find myself wondering if we’d all be so supportive of this situation had the employees not been such jerks about it. The OP’s update has some pretty dismissive language of the dog people, and we talk about not fitting into a company’s culture a lot on this site, and this OP did not. I’d agree that should be a badge of honor in terms of the asshattery involved in this situation, but if a company has a majority of employees who consider having dogs in the workplace to be the culture, then that’s the culture. In this case, it appears that it runs afoul of ADA, so there’s the problem, and the company failed to deal with it, and let people be jerks, to boot.

        Note: PLEASE understand I am not excusing any of the horrible behavior by the company and the employees. She’s lucky to be out of there, I doubt that kind of disorganized management policy reaction and astonishingly mean behavior was one-time.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          But “that’s the culture” isn’t the end of the discussion if maintaining the culture means breaking the law.

          Reply
        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I’m going to quote a great comment from Labyrinth on the original post:

          “If this was a company that had hired their first woman and the male employees were resenting her for “making” the company build a women’s locker room and remove topless photos, we’d all agree that management should make absolutely sure that no one blames the woman. Sure, many people love dogs, some men love the “relaxing” atmosphere without women, but if it needs to change, it needs to change. It would be hostile to exclude and resent the woman in that scenario, and it’s hostile to exclude and resent the allergic OP. If OP had needed a wheelchair ramp to be built, it would be crazy to allow their workmates to be mad because the renovation is annoying.”

          Reply
          1. Ordinary World

            I think maybe I didn’t word my post correctly, as I meant the next line “In this case, it appears that it runs afoul of ADA, so there’s the problem, and the company failed to deal with it, and let people be jerks, to boot.” to indicate that it didn’t *matter* if that was the culture.

            Reply
          2. Isabel

            I mentioned this further down the thread but wanted to put it here, in the right place.

            I really don’t think this is a valid comparison. Misogyny (like racism) is about a deeply held, cultural imbalance of power. Both have strong ties to violence.

            The same does not apply to pet-allergy sufferers.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s not comparing the two in that sense. It’s saying that it’s easy to feel like “hey, this is our culture and we like it, and if it’s not for you, you should just not take the job, rather than coming in and disrupting a culture that’s working for all of us.” When you look at that argument in other contexts (like the women thing), it can be easier to realize “oh, wait, that’s not the right way to view this stuff.”

              Reply
              1. Isabel

                Hope my tone did not come off as harsh. I do understand what you meant.

                I am trying to think of comparable scenarios. If it was a nut-allergy I would be much more appalled if coworkers whined about accommodating a new hire. But saving your favorite sandwich and cookies for home does not have the emotional, lifestyle and possible financial impact on the hypothetical peanut-loving staff.

                Ditto accommodating someone who is allergic to cleaning products used in the kitchen, flower arrangements.

                I have heard of offices going scent-free (employees could not bathe or wash clothes in any scented product and were banned from wearing fragrances) to accommodate one worker. In the two stories I heard, there was never a question of keeping the health information private because both allergy-sufferers were very vocal about their requests.

                What about this scenario? I’ve heard of companies that have beer on tap, available at all times, and a company culture in which employees often have a drink or two at their desks later in the day. This also seems to be a rather young, tech-y trend, designed to make working longer hours more pleasant. If this was a company’s culture and (for the sake of argument) all employees partook and enjoyed it. I wonder about reactions if a new hire confided to HR that they struggled with addiction and could not work in such conditions.

                In that one, I’d worry for people to whom drinking at work is as emotional an issue as pets at work. I recognize that I have an extreme pro-dog bias and am enjoying thinking this through from different angles.

                Reply
        3. ted mosby

          First, I reread both letters and I don’t see any dismissive language. OP is just repeatedly asking how she can work there despite her allergy. She never said dogs don’t ever belong in offices or anything like that. Honestly, I can’t even imagine how I would react if someone accused me of discriminating against a dog because I had an actual medical condition. I totally see what you mean but I didn’t read it that way.

          Second, this was all Boss’s fault; she should have made very clear that this was part of the culture in the interview. You can’t spring something that huge on an employee once they take the job. By failing to do that, SHE caused a conflict, then acted like it was OP’s fault for having a medical issue. I would be annoyed if this was taken away from me, but at my BOSS for making the mistake, not at OP for having the allergy. If I were OP I would have gotten pretty snippish with these people by the end.

          Reply
    4. fposte

      “Cultural fit” is not a trump card. It is not a legally viable excuse for discrimination.

      If you argue that your single female employee isn’t a good cultural fit because she doesn’t appreciate the in-office strippers and the fact everybody but her thinks it’s funny when you slap her ass, you are technically right, in that to be a cultural fit she’d have to accept sexual harassment and she doesn’t. You’re still horribly illegal, though, which is the thing that actually matters.

      Reply
      1. Turtle Candle

        Yeah. And sadly, in the industry in which I work (tech), “culture fit” is very often used as a fig leaf for discrimination, both illegal (especially race and gender, but also sometimes disability and age) and legal but still terrible (culture and class).

        It’s hard not to notice when it is always the black person, or woman, or etc. who (hand wave, hand wave) “just isn’t a good fit.”

        Reply
      2. neverjaunty

        It’s gotten to the point that “culture fit” is pretty much a synonym for “we’re not comfortable with anybody different than us.”

        Reply
        1. LBK

          Which is a shame because I think legitimate culture fit is a valid concern, but it’s definitely been co-opted as an excuse for disparate impact.

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yes — lots of use for it, but it’s too often misused/abused. I think, though, that rather than stamping out the phrase (because in many contexts it describes an important and useful thing), we’d do better to reclaim it with the correct meaning.

            Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              I used to hear this as the two a.m. rule, as in, “if you’re working on an important brief at 2 a.m., is this somebody you would be glad to work with, knowing that they’re going to pull their share of the load and you won’t end up killing each other?”

              But they’re actually using “culture fit” correctly, when the office culture is (for example) “white techbros who think bigoted jokes make them cool and edgy”. It’s quite true that a woman of color who expects to be treated like a colleague, rather than a target of harassment, will be a poor fit in that culture.

              Reply
        2. F.

          I have found this to be especially true in some companies that like to tout their so-called diversity. Oh, there are people of all genders, shapes and colors, religions and abilities, but let any of the employees have an original thought and they are out the door in no time. (been there, had that happen to me) I call that superficial diversity or diversity in name only.

          Reply
    5. brighidg

      I agree but it sounds like the people she interviewed with weren’t very open about the cutlure or at managing the culture (fleas?!).

      People tend to expect others to act reasonably, until they don’t.

      Reply
  29. Kassy

    “If I sat at a table at lunch, everyone at that table was suddenly not hungry and would leave.”

    Is everyone that works at your company thirteen years old? Because in that context, this story makes a lot more sense.

    Glad you found a better opportunity! Leave this craziness in your dust and don’t look back.

    Reply
    1. F.

      I had this happen to me in the workplace, too. I have cough-variant asthma, and one of the “mean girls” and her clique spread rumors that I had tuberculosis. They would either block me from entering the lunchroom or take their food and leave. These were grown women! I quit when I was attacked by the ringleader in a secluded part of the plant. HR did nothing, but this was in 1997, prior to the ADA.

      Reply
        1. F.

          Thank you. The sad part of this is that karma occurred a couple of months later when the ringleader’s young daughter was diagnosed with asthma. I felt very sorry for that little girl, but I hope her mother was finally educated.

          Reply
  30. Holly

    You know you’re in a bad place when they decide that the health of a dog is far, far more important than the health of one of their employees.

    Reply
    1. Nashira

      With all the talk of fleas and accidents, I’m not sure they really cared so much for the dogs’ health even. :| The jerkface jerks wanted a warm cuddle during the day, and don’t care about other people. Or realize that empathy is a thing.

      What an awful workplace.

      Reply
    2. Dr. Johnny Fever

      I can only imagine how disgusting it would be to work in an area with fleas and urine-stained carpets. That smell is tough to ever get out of carpet or fabric.

      It would be like working in the corner of a room in a hoarder’s home next to an open, unclean litter box.

      Reply
  31. Anonsie

    when I brought it up to my boss, she explained that they were oversights or mistakes and that I was blowing things out of proportion. She seemed so sincere and I felt like she was really trying to support me. I felt like I WAS blowing things out of proportion.

    Gaslighting at its finest! Step right up, folks, look at this fine specimen.

    I am so glad with the ending to this, oh my god. I really love them trying to pull HR and a lawyer into the room that first time to try to convince you that you didn’t have a legal leg to stand on and intimidate you out of getting your own legal counsel. That might be the shadiest thing I’ve heard in a long, long time– and you better believe I see a lot of shady business, this is just flawless in its construction of shady bullcrap.

    Reply
    1. Anonsie

      Also PS, hold on let me get my soap box to stand on so I can harp on yesterday’s business again: y’all better believe this is the typical way folks handle disability issues.

      Reply
  32. AnonAcademic

    I have to commend the OP for convincingly pulling the “I’ve consulted a lawyer” card without having to actually pay a lawyer :P. Risky but full of chutzpah and it seems to have worked!

    Reply
    1. Lily in NYC

      I did something similar once and was shocked at how incredibly well it worked (I mentioned the name of an attorney whom another coworker hired to get big bucks out of us after an unlawful termination). My office is terrified of this dude! I’m still pissed that it had to come to that, though.

      Reply
    2. ZSD

      I recently got good results from telling a travel insurance company that I had consulted a lawyer. I had in fact chatted with my brother, who is a lawyer, about the problem.

      Reply
    3. AnonACOD

      I thought this was illegal? Or at least in bad form. The legal advice given on this blog was probably not privy to any kind of oversight…

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The advice in the original post actually came from lawyers, not me. The two lawyers I quoted in the original post reviewed her letter and weighed in on her specific situation.

        Reply
      2. Adam V

        I don’t believe it’s illegal to *say* “I’ve consulted a lawyer” when you haven’t. (I do think it’s illegal to claim to *be* a lawyer when you’re not.) However, if you didn’t actually consult a lawyer, and the other side did, you run the risk of them calling your bluff and saying “okay, bring your lawyer to this mediator’s office and we’ll hash it out” and then you’re running around to find a lawyer to bring.

        Reply
        1. Not So NewReader

          I was told to say, “I have sought ‘counsel’ ….” OR “I have received counsel on matter X and…”
          The technicality being that anyone can counsel anyone. You don’t have to be lawyer to counsel someone and not everyone who counsels another person is a lawyer. We see it here, “IANAL” and the person continues on to offer what they see/know from their experiences.

          If someone says “oh do you have a lawyer?” , you can respond with “Let’s just say I have been looking into things.”

          Reply
      3. neverjaunty

        You’re thinking of the unauthorized practice of law. Saying “I’ve consulted a lawyer and she told me….” is not practicing law, or giving legal advice.

        Reply
    4. ThursdaysGeek

      Reminds me of the time our local city had a somewhat iffy layoff, and the guy showed up at the next council meeting with his lawyer. I greeted him with a ‘is that your lawyer or did a friend dress up in a lawyer suit?’ It turns out, it was just a friend in a lawyer suit, but it sure made the city council nervous!

      Reply
    5. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

      It just irks, though — having to say “I’ve consulted a lawyer” in order to have one’s rights be taken seriously. As if you having the the law on your side isn’t a good enough reason to cease and desist — you have to invoke the lawyer reference to be heard.

      Kind of like having to use the line “I have a boyfriend” to get somebody to stop hassling you at a bar. Ugh.

      Reply
  33. Paradigm Shirt

    Wow, what a horrible office, so glad you got out of there and moved on to better things! Not only did those idiots put dogs over someone’s health, they also put the dogs over the good of the company. They lost a great employee and a chance for this great employee to improve the company… over the dogs, which are just supposed to be a perk, not the reason for the company’s existence!
    I love dogs and sometimes wish I could bring mine to work, but I’m a sane person who understands that the point of going to work is to work, not to play with your dog!

    Reply
  34. The Other Dawn

    It absolutely floors me that grown-ass adults can act this way…and get away with it! How terrible, OP! But I’m so glad to hear you got out of that toxic high schoolish situation. I hope things are much better at the new job.

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      With nearly 50 years in the workforce and a fair number of terrible bosses and looney cow-orkers, I can say that I have never encountered people this petty. This is terrifying. Come to think of it, as miserable as Junior High School was (I pre-date ‘middle school’) my classmates were nowhere near this awful either. Wow.

      Reply
  35. Jb

    Wow. I’m a crazy dog lady, but those people sound like psychos. I would love to work in a dog friendly office, but not at the expense of someone else’s health. Really, my dogs would just be a hindrance anyway to my productivity.

    Reply
  36. Jubilance

    OMG. I’m amazed at this update! Talk about a company doing everything the wrong way! The ridiculous comments you got from coworkers, the way HR & management treated you…I applaud you for not snapping and just quitting on the spot. What horrible people. I hope your new job works out to be a better situation.

    Reply
  37. The Carrie

    Wow. I can’t believe grown humans acted like this. This is so so awful. Even if you ACTUALLY did something to these people, this would be a terrible reaction. I’m so sorry, but happy you are out of there!

    Reply
  38. LOtheAdmim

    OP, your awesomeness cannot be stated enough. Good for you for standing up for yourself while outnumbered, handling this awful situation in a professional manner despite the buffoonery going on around you, and double kudos to you for finding something better and leaving this nut house with your head held high.

    Very few updates have left me speechless and this is one of them. I can’t believe it got that bad and your own manager was a willing participant in trashing you.

    Just…. WOW!

    Reply
  39. Anonsie

    I’m gonna set off some sparks near a powder keg with this, too, but as a side note: my dog has that typical issue with frequent itching and hot spots, and I’ve noticed this thing where other dog owners (and pet store employees, every single time they see my buying her fancy soap) INSIST that I can’t wash my dog very often or it will get worse. They swear up and down that washing her too much will dry her skin and make it worse and I should wash her as infrequently as possible and not with too much soap and yadda yadda. Like, strangers go out of their way to stop me when I’m buying the anti-itch washes and lecture me about bathing her too much.

    However this is the exact opposite of true. The more I wash her, the less she itches. I noticed this by accident and asked the– I swear to god this exists and I went to one –veterinary dermatologist to if that was bad, since everyone always insisted it was. She said I was right and they recommend more frequent washing for itchy dogs with most issues. She was actually really surprised that this was a thing and said she very rarely recommends less baths for anything.

    So, re: dog with a medical condition, based on these people’s general behavior I’m going to guess the dog could freakin’ have a bath sometimes if it needed to and they’re FOS.

    Reply
    1. Blue_eyes

      Getting a bit off topic, but I totally believe you about the veterinary dermatologist being a thing. A former roommate of mine once had to call in an equine chiropractor (Really? Yes. Her horse’s back was out of alignment).

      Reply
      1. Anonsie

        There are not a lot of vet derms. I think she told me there are like, 12 nationwide or something like that. I remember briefly thinking “I need that job.”

        I bet there are a lot of equine chiropractors though, it sounds silly on its face but I can definitely understand why horses would need back specialists specifially.

        Reply
        1. Dr. Johnny Fever

          Mares can have back issues from pregnancy, and if you’re breeding racing horses, those back issues can be costly problems.

          Almost every stud farm I knew of years ago near my hometown had an equine chiro on staff, as well as dedicated vets.

          Reply
        2. Ad Astra

          Yeah, it makes sense that an animal that routinely carries humans on its back might have use for a chiropractor. I’m pretty sure there are also chiropractors who work on dogs and cats, too. Not sure if they’re vets with chiro training or normal chiropractors with some animal-specific training or what.

          Reply
          1. Revolver Rani

            Not a chiropractor but incidentally interesting: I have a very old friend who is a veterinarian – the familiar dog-and-cat kind – with an additional specialty in acupuncture, acupressure, and herbal medicines. She did years of additional training in these areas on top of her DVM degree.

            Reply
          2. Anonsie

            When my mom’s elderly dog started to get ill, they actually had a veterinary chiropractor and a veterinary acupuncturist come alternately to their actual house to work on the dog to try to make her feel better. The idea being, if you have a sick animal that might be in what’s essentially palliative care, you’re only going to make it worse by hauling them to some office somewhere.

            Reply
        3. caryatid

          there is a vet derm clinic by me! i drive by it all the time and until today was sort of clueless about what they do :)

          Reply
      2. MashaKasha

        Yup, my dog saw a veterinary dermatologist/allergist for a stubborn staph infection (she ended up diagnosing him with low thyroid function) and a vet cardiologist for his congenital heart disease. It does sound ridiculous, wasteful etc, but to me, it actually ended up being cheaper than bringing the dog to his regular vet, doing more tests, still coming back with no Dx, and bringing the dog back again for more meds and more tests. Especially in the vet derm’s case, she ended up charging like $150 for the visit and putting the dog on thyroid meds that were like $20 for a three-month supply; after we’d wasted hundreds of dollars doing various tests and trying different meds with our regular vet.

        I’m shocked to hear that there are only 12 vet derms nationwide, and one is in my area, a 30-minute drive from my house! What are the odds?

        Reply
        1. Anonsie

          I’m totally with you on this. My dog has also seen a veterinary radiologist and my mom’s saw a veterinary oncologist. As with people, I am 100% in favor of seeing the specialist who should know what’s up and settling it there. Doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s a significantly better option.

          It might have been more than that, but it was definitely a shockingly small number like that.

          Reply
          1. TL -

            The vet oncologist can actually be a lifesaver – improper administration of chemotherapy can send a lot of animals to the emergency room or even kill them.

            Reply
      3. Episkey

        I took my dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist & oncologist. Believe me, there is a veterinary specialist for everything these days.

        Reply
        1. SL #2

          There’s a vet opthalmologist right by my house! I have reptiles rather than furry animals, but I’ve always wondered if they have lots of patients.

          Reply
          1. Episkey

            Judging by the office, yes she does. It was swankier and nicer than 98% of human doctor offices I’ve been in. I joked I missed my calling in life after that visit.

            Reply
    2. Kitty

      Don’t get me started on the “expert” advice I used to get when we had a long-haired/double-coated dog and gave her a buzzcut in the summer.

      But even if the horrid person was right about her dog’s skin condition preventing her from washing it frequently, she was still being a horrid person to OP, and management completely botched how they handled this.

      Reply
      1. Anonsie

        Oh absolutely. But on top of that, I also think she’s wrong. So it’s just a horrid patty in a lettuce wrap of stupid.

        Reply
    3. Ad Astra

      Did the dermatologist say what was causing the itching? Sounds like it could be yeast buildup on the skin, which indeed can be helped by more frequent washing (I suppose it could also be aggravated by excessive washing, but so can anything). My dog is one of those breeds that’s prone to skin issues, and whenever he’s scratching without evidence of a raging bacterial infection or a bug bite or something, our first course of action is a bath.

      The only thing I can think of where bathing less often might help is dry skin.

      Reply
      1. Underemployed Erin

        So many people without pets compare children to their pets. I am going to compare this pet to my child.

        Allergies can lead to skin conditions. Washing can remove allergens from the skin. For people, to prevent the skin from drying out due to the extra washing needed to wash away allergens, you apply lotion. Do dogs have a dandruff shampoo or something that could help them out?

        Reply
        1. Anonsie

          Ding ding ding! You win a cigar!

          This is her problem. She has environmental allergies (we did scratch testing and everything, she had a big shaved rectangle in her side for a while) and washing those off is exactly the ticket to help her get less irritated skin. Her skin drying has never been an issue, and the vet derm said it was extremely unlikely to become one even if we bathed her a couple times a week. But as a general thing, you can bathe them with oil-based washes that are a little bit more moisturizing than typical soaps.

          Reply
        2. Ad Astra

          They do make special creams for dogs with dry snouts and paw pads, which you could probably use on the rest of a dog if he had dry skin. Coconut oil works too. I’ve been told that human lotion is not ok to use on dogs, though I’m not sure exactly what about it makes it bad for them. Also, like anonsie mentioned, dog soaps are typically not as drying as human soaps.

          Reply
            1. TL -

              Or the licking. It could totally be the licking. Most lotions aren’t safe for ingestion. (Whereas coconut oil wouldn’t be a big deal, I would imagine.)

              Reply
    4. KellyK

      Yeah, washing my dog (who has dust mite allergies) makes her much less itchy. It’s a shame, because she hates baths, and she definitely gets the Sarah McLaughlin commercial look when we do wash her.

      I’m wondering if those other dog owners, etc., might be seeing a real connection and just misunderstanding the cause. Washing a dog could totally cause irritation if the soap is harsh, it contains something they’re allergic to, or you don’t get it thoroughly rinsed out. But the solution is to use different soap or rinse thoroughly, not just have a dirty dog.

      Reply
  40. Hannah

    This is one of the craziest updates ever. So much drama! I’m so glad it had the satisfying ending that you found somewhere new. Sounds like you handled it well OP.

    Reply
  41. Former Retail Manager

    So sorry about your mom…I didn’t remember that part in the original letter/comments. Best of luck at the new gig. Sounds like a GREAT fit compared to the other one.

    Reply
  42. eplawyer

    They were right, you weren’t a cultural fit. You were a grown adult and they were still in high school.

    So glad you found something that is a great job and you are working with other adults.

    Reply
  43. John

    Congrats to you, and sorry for what you’ve been through.

    While you were wise to negotiate what they will say if contacted about your employment, I hope you will trying to avoid using them as a reference. The reality is that there are ways to adhere to the letter of the agreement but not the spirit. For example, when asked about you, the employer can read the agreed-upon language and do so in a robotic way to indicate that they are reading from a legal agreement. And if the employer has a follow-up, they can just say, “As I said…” and repeat the robotic line reading.

    Reply
  44. Kate

    I have terrible, terrible, TERRIBLE allergies and I felt so much sympathy for you when I read your first letter. It sounds like an awful situation and I’m so glad you’re out of it!

    Reply
  45. Erin

    Holy crap I want to give you a hug. I am so, so glad you felt comfortable enough while interviewing to be candid, and that then yielded to a great fit in a new job.

    So sorry you had to go through that. I went through a horrific work experience years ago, with a similar Rosemary’s Baby, they’re literally all out to get me and I’m the only sane one, sort of situation, but I think yours takes the cake.

    At least you have a crazy story to tell at cocktail parties, right? :P :X

    Reply
  46. Searching

    What an amazing update! Glad that in the end, you found a much better place to work, but the way you were forced to go about it is crazy. Now you may have some karma on your side – that new open floor plan you’re leaving behind? Good luck with that, DogLovingCompany!

    Reply
  47. Colorado

    Wow OP, thanks for the update! Sounds like you handled it very well but damn, those people are bat shit crazy! I am an avid animal lover to say the very least. I like animals better than most people. I have three dogs myself but unless you require a service animal or own your liquor store (always see dogs at liquor stores), they do not belong in the workplace! And other people who may not love your dogs like you do, that is their prerogative. Don’t subject them the same as when people shove their kids down your throat thinking everyone loves babies (I actually do, but point proven).

    Reply
  48. Gaby

    I love my animals but they’re a huge distraction. Why on earth do companies think they’re a good idea to have in an office space (obvious disability animals aside)? I understand they promote morale but after a certain point a line needs to be drawn; only managers can bring in dogs, only people who work a flex schedule or odd hours, etc. This sounded like a huge mess, almost sitcom-esque, and you came out the winner.

    Your statement of “Right to Breathe” is especially true. I’ve had to lock heads with past employers because of stupid policies; not turning the AC on when its 90-100degrees out (30-35C for others), as well as providing poor lighting and non-ergonomic chairs. Employers don’t seem to realize that employees don’t like what /they/ like and have their own preferences. Yes, 80% of people at Teapots might like the reclining cozy, but the other 20% might need something different.

    Good luck in your future job.

    Reply
    1. Laurel Gray

      I could see “only managers can bring in dogs, only people who work a flex schedule or odd hours, etc.” creating serious morale issues (among other drama) in most office environments.

      Reply
      1. Gaby

        I guess that’s possible, most the businesses I’ve worked at only the higher ups get perks like bringing their dog to work, or the senior people who work odd hours/flex.

        Reply
        1. KellyK

          Bringing animals in only during odd hours seems reasonable. (There’s a difference between having a dog in an office with 47 other people and being one of three still there at 7 PM and having your dog. Plus, it could be a useful perk for the person working til 10 PM or all day on a holiday to meet critical deadlines to not have to run home to let the dog out.)

          I think making it management only would be rubbing a management perk in the regular employees’ faces, and would definitely hurt morale.

          Reply
  49. INTP

    Unfortunately, due to my personal experiences with both allergies and people who are really into pets, I am not at all surprised at the reaction. It’s insane, don’t get me wrong, but also exactly what I expected. Amongst other allergies (including furry animals), I happen to have a very intense and bad reaction to cigarette smoke (like, if I’m indoors with it, I puke, and sitting next to someone who smells of smoke triggers an asthmatic cough attack). That one is always fun. Even non-smokers who abhor cigarette smoke get up in arms about my desire to participate in society despite my health issue when it means people have to walk a few steps further to smoke. I’m just glad I don’t have a severe food allergy, like the people with peanut allergies who selfishly insist that their right to live trumps everyone else’s right to eat peanut butter sandwiches in confined spaces.

    That’s just how people are with allergies. They’re all nice and supportive until it interferes with their desire to do whatever they want at all times. (My coworker’s response to my saying I’m allergic to her perfume was to helpfully suggest I stand several feet away from her at all times. This woman wore enough perfume to smell 20 feet away, and I had to be in meetings with her.) And doubly so if that involve smoking, animals, or food.

    OP, I’m glad that you got out of there, that you managed to collect enough information and evidence to ensure they can’t retaliate against you, and that your new job seems to be even better. You certainly deserve better treatment than you received.

    Reply
    1. VintageLydia USA

      “Unfortunately, due to my personal experiences with both allergies and people who are really into pets, I am not at all surprised at the reaction.”

      Same here. My kiddo has pretty bad dog AND cat allergies. Not life threatening but bad enough that we don’t want them near him at all, even after he’s had his allergy medicine (he’s too young for the “good stuff” and I suspect he’s too young for allergy shots but it’s on the list of things to talk about at his next appointment.)

      SIL has two dogs and a cat she absolutely lives for. She’s in undergrad right now with the aim of getting into vet school. Animals are her life and has been since she was a small child. She used to bring them up for holidays and weekend trips which sucked because they peed everywhere (health issues, both of them) but I put up with it because family and it was only two or three times a year. I also used to work in PetSmart so I’m not exactly foreign to the concept of dog piss and other, uh, delightful surprises and having to clean them up (including animal vomit and blood! Seriously it sucks working there sometimes especially with the vet office on premises because you got sick dogs doing who-knows-what all over the floors.)

      Anyways, to get back on track, once we discovered the allergy we established a very firm boundary. Not animals in the house. Ever. If it was a day trip and the weather is mild, she and everyone else is free to stake them to a tie out in the yard far from the play equipment (large yard, but no fence.) But since she lives 4 hours away and most of our get togethers are during the winter holidays, she doesn’t come up as much and apparently the entire family thinks we (ie me, even though I’ve been letting Mr. Vintage handle all this mess because they’re HIS circus. I deal with mine) are being ridiculous. This includes my MIL the PEDIATRIC NURSE. There has been tension building for past 6 months or so and a lot of passive aggression last month when they came up for kiddo’s birthday (Yes, you can come even though it’s a 3 years old’s birthday not sure why you’d want to? No you can’t bring the dogs. No the dogs can’t just stay “in one room” because that’s not how dander works, no you can’t put them in the garage it’s too bloody cold for your doxie, no not the outside office because of servers and computers. No I’m not making the kid use allergy medicine that makes him sleepy at his party plus for however long it will take me to get rid of the fur/dander. We went over this months ago.) She ended up doing a day trip for the party– again, not sure why. I have young nephews and the only times I went to their parties was if I was local and already free because seriously? It’s just a bunch of little kids running around for a couple hours.

      This became a bit of a rant but yeah, even your own flesh and blood can get weird about your (or your kids’) allergies. Spoiled coworkers who have no problem with pee stains and FLEAS? They would (and sounds like they nearly did) riot.

      Reply
      1. AMG

        People can get so weird and judgmental about this stuff. They need a serious attitude adjustment. So sorry to hear this.

        Reply
    2. Ms. Anne Thrope

      It was terrible in the bad old days when everyone could, and did, smoke everywhere. Buses! Airplanes! Movie theaters! Ugh!!

      Reply
      1. Artemesia

        I always got row 23 on transatlantic flights and the smoking section would start in row 24. I particularly loved the smokers who sat up front and then would walk back and stand two feet from me to smoke and then walk back to their less smokey seat.

        I am actually tested allergic to cigarette smoke — it was hellish to be in places where people smoked and I always took as many antihistimines as I could find. I have loved the way Europe as moved towards no smoking in recent years. Most countries don’t allow it in restaurants — not so long ago they were blue with smoke. We were in Russia this fall and I loved the way the table of guys next to us at the Georgian restaurant got up every 15 minutes to go out and smoke and then came back to devour more fabulous Georgian food — in St. Petersburg.

        Reply
        1. sam

          come to NYC! you basically can’t smoke indoors anywhere anymore! it’s awesome. Particularly when I now go out drinking with friends and no longer go home smelling like an ashtray.

          Reply
    3. blackcat

      As someone who just spent a holiday in the house of my MIL who doesn’t “believe in” my allergies, I would like to offer solidarity.

      My poor lungs are still not back to normal, and we left on Friday! No matter how much it makes me seem unfriendly, I will not stay in that house again. Spouse and I can afford a hotel. My breathing matters more than her feelings!

      Reply
    4. Marian the Librarian

      > “My coworker’s response to my saying I’m allergic to her perfume was to helpfully suggest I stand several feet away from her at all times.”

      People can be so inconsiderate about their perfume; I just do not get it. I work in a public library, and patrons are constantly applying scent in the stacks. Ugh! People rarely do it in my department (I work with teenagers), but I once came back from a break and walked into a cloud of perfume that was permeating the whole department. My solution was to turn to my coworker and say loudly: “Woah, did someone just put PERFUME on over here!?” The perpetrator had the good graces to look embarrassed and has never done it again, but most adults I’ve interacted with (who would put perfume on in public) wouldn’t have cared that I’d said something.

      I don’t even have allergies, I just loathe walking into an enormous cloud of perfume, and it infuriates me that people try to put perfume on outside of their homes. I have enormous sympathy for people who are actually allergic to perfume and have to deal with an allergic reaction when people are so inconsiderate!

      Reply
  50. Allergy Queen

    Wow. W.O.W. I am so sorry you had to go through that whole situation!!! I usually don’t comment on this site, but I became more and more angry for you as I read your update (and reread that original letter!!).

    Generally most people don’t understand the difference between an allergy and a severe allergic reaction (what you have). The word severe makes all the difference- the chance of your throat closing is LIFE THREATENING. A runny nose and itchy eyes is something everyone can suffer from at times, but hives and swelling are full body reactions that can lead to so many more severe problems. I’m utterly shocked that no one even took the time to Google the difference and tried to be a bit understanding of your situation.

    I am severely allergic to dairy and had to report my allergy to my new job in order to protect myself from accidental consumption. Nothing worse than accidentally going in on a round of tea and waking up in the hospital a bit later. I can’t imagine my manager being anything less than understanding and helpful- I’m sorry you didn’t get this treatment!!

    Glad to see you’ve found a new and happier work environment, OP.

    Reply
    1. INTP

      Even if it were a mild allergy, continuous exposure is no good, and their reaction was insane. None of my allergies are life-threatening, luckily, but if I were not allowed to avoid my environmental allergens, I would feel constantly sick and tired, have very frequent upper respiratory infections, have a cough from my mild asthma and possibly have my asthma become more severe over time, etc. It’s no more reasonable to expect someone to endure that when it’s avoidable than it is to expect someone without a medical condition to be slowly poisoned. (Not that you were saying it would be NBD if it weren’t life-threatening. I’m just soapboxing in general because a lot of people think that a mild environmental allergy is just a little temporary discomfort and aren’t aware of the bigger picture with the problems they cause if you don’t try to keep them under control.)

      Reply
      1. Allergy Queen

        The attitude towards allergies is just mind boggling to me- I blame Claritin commercials!! I just spent 3 days at a first aid course here in the UK and no one could understand the difference between severe allergic reaction and an allergy. At least not until we saw a video of full blown anaphylaxis

        When I do suffer from environmental allergies, I am completely miserable! To have to spend every working day continually exposed to even those allergens would drive me bonkers. Impressed that OP was able to be so polite!

        Reply
        1. INTP

          Exactly! When I take a “non-drowsy” antihistamine, I have to sleep it off for 11 hours to not wake up too groggy to function, and I just get a slight reduction in symptoms. There is no dancing in fields of pollen, rolling around laughing in the grass with a cat, like in commercials. It’s not effective enough to be a workable solution to something like this, but even if it were, I’d require my workday be reduced by 3 hours to compensate for the extra sleep I need. It’s literally not possible to sleep 11 hours per day while holding a full time job and doing other necessary life things.

          Reply
          1. blackcat

            For my mild allergies (including cats and I owe one), my life on vs off Allegra really is like those commercials. When I have to go off it, I am that miserable sneezing, itchy eye, cranky person. On it, I can snuggle my cat and run in fields of flowers. No side effects. It is glorious. Claritin, on the other hand, does absolutely nothing for me other than make me sleepy.

            The Allegra seems to do next to nothing for the allergies that affect my lungs, though. It also does nothing for the food allergies, as my recent ER bill can attest to. Or maybe it does do something in these cases and OH MY GOD would it be disastrous for me to go off it.

            Reply
          2. F.

            A male friend of mine has severe allergies and a very very embarrassing side effect to antihistimines. I’ll leave it to your imagination, but… ;-)

            Reply
      2. JB (not in Houston)

        Yes, exactly! And your allergies can become worse over time, so even if you start out with mild allergies, it can get worse. That’s what happened to me.

        Reply
        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Although mild allergies can also go away over time, which is why I can sleep with a cat in my face now, but had to have shots for cat dander allergies when I was a kid. So it can go either way (if it’s mild).

          I guess this is somewhat related to the dog people’s reactions to the OP. When my siblings found out I was allergic to cats, their reaction was ‘well, she can get over it or we can get rid of her.’ The cats stayed, and fortunately, so did I.

          Reply
          1. dawbs

            You can also develop tolerances to your own pets.
            I’ve been told by multiple doctors that I should never own pets. My dog and cat don’t bother me though.
            But if I sleep at my sister’s house, the first night I’m there, I’ll wake up looking like I dumped bleach in my eyes. 3 days later, I’ll be OK, because it takes me that long to get ‘used to’ her dog. And then I repeat the process when I come home, being temporarily disused to my own beastie. (repeat with every subsequent visit)

            (Said dog gets to take benedryl often because she’s allergic to, among other things, peanut butter. So see, she couldn’t have been involved in the whole OP’s awful situation, because I have to watch her because people are forever feeding her dog treats w/ PB in them and she gets itchy all over)

            OP, I”m glad you’ve gotten a better situation and I hope you have a more peaceful time with your family needs!

            Reply
            1. Alma

              Dawbs, my pup has to take *dye-free* benadryl – he had a bad reaction to fleas, and then Fr*****ne, and nearly died. He went to the vet every day for a week, and I slept sitting up with him in my arms so I could be sure he was breathing. At this point we were approaching $1,000 in vet bills.

              I would never have taken him to a “pet friendly” office because it would most likely be a serious risk for him.

              OP, you did good. If we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will.

              Reply
              1. dawbs

                THe thingss we do for them.
                I’m glad you figured that out–nothing like an allergy to the things that are supposed to make you better!
                (our worst is that she’s allergic also to the super glue used on incisions–so she has to get old-school stitches or she has some rather interesting swelling at her surgical sites. but at least it’s not dangerous)
                Not being able to do flea treatment would create it’s own world of problems

                Reply
            2. Ezri

              I adjust to the pets I live with, too. I’ve had minor cat allergies my whole life, confirmed by a doctor, but I only have bad reactions to other people’s cats. I am able to acclimate to ones that I’m around regularly.

              Reply
  51. Episkey

    I was one of those people in the original thread that said I would be upset about losing the perk. I understand that you think that’s unfair, I admit that it’s unfair.

    That being said, I strongly feel that the dog situation should have been disclosed at the very beginning of the interview process AND I think your previous co-workers acted like asses. In addition, there is no way I would allow dogs in the office if it was my company if they were not housebroken (peeing on the carpet) and the flea thing would hugely upset me. There would need to be ground rules — no accidents, on flea preventative, no dog or human aggression, etc.

    Reply
    1. LizNYC

      Seriously, there seemed to be so many pre-existing issues with the dogs in the office — OP was just a convenient scapegoat. (My office allows dogs — but recurring accidents, bugs or bad behavior and they’re out.)

      Reply
      1. TootsNYC

        Or a convenient (or maybe even necessary) catalyst. The CEO may have felt trapped into having all those dogs peeing and vermin-ing everywhere, and it may have been that only this situation made her/him realize that it would be OK to look at the dogs issue and make a different decision.

        Because I’m sure the CEO thought, “I could get another good employee who’s allergic, or afraid. And it would just be easier.”

        Sometimes you need something to happen to let you see that the world could be a different shape.

        Reply
    2. L McD

      Yeah it’s completely understandable to be upset about the change, and I haven’t actually see anybody arguing otherwise. Still though. I am a Dog Person but I cannot IMAGINE working in that environment. I am sure it smelled terrible because there are specific steps you need to take in order to properly clean up after a dog pees on a carpet, and even then, it has usually saturated into the pad and possibly the subflooring. You have to absolutely soak it in an expensive enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle and then soak up/dry it thoroughly – my dog has a habit of peeing on the floor to express her displeasure at various stressors, so I know from bitter experience. And also, I would never ever bring her into an office environment because she is just not suited to it. Some dogs would be fine, my adorable high-strung embarrassment would not be.

      And do not even get me STARTED on the fleas. I usually have an allergic reaction to bug bites that makes me swell up with gigantic welts. All aboard the Nope Train to Nopeville.

      Reply
  52. CH

    OP you did a great job and handled a difficult situation well. I would be curious what happened to her former boss (employees and the company as well) after being told to leave the room by HR and the company lawyer. This company is unethical, immoral and does not have a realistic view of things. I’m glad to hear that your moving on to better opportunities.

    Reply
  53. Mimmy

    I remember the original post and vaguely remember the comments. So glad you finally got out of that environment and into a better one! I normally advise against disclosing something like that at an interview, but I’d say it worked in your favor this time! (I know, there were other factors too I’m sure).

    I absolutely respect unique perks like dog-friendly work places and can see why everyone got so upset when the perk was taken away. But I agree with everyone else that this was handled very poorly. It’s amazing how once one coworker begins to act hostile or unfriendly, others follow suit. Been there, done that – not fun.

    Reply
    1. Annonymous

      Companies have to moke reasonable accommodation, which doesn’t necessarily mean the accommodation the employee is asking for. It would depend on what the employee needed the dog for, but if there is probably a solution that accomodates the employees needs without the dog being in the office.

      Reply
    2. INTP

      Someone had a comment in a recent post about this, but the person’s issue was a dog phobia rather than allergies. IIRC they did what they could to separate that employee from any place where she might run into the dogs while working, but were not required to completely prevent contact with service dogs on entering and leaving the building, since that’s something that would also happen just outside in society.

      I assume they’d do something similar for allergies, try to physically separate the employees with allergies from the employees with service dogs. If that were completely impossible, I’m not sure, but I feel like they’d err on the side of keeping the service dogs around.

      Reply
    3. Adam V

      The company tries as hard as they can to satisfy both – put the two employees on different sides of the building, mark certain areas of the floor and (possibly) entrances as dog-free or dog-friendly, etc.

      If you get into things like meetings where both people need to attend – can the person with the service dog leave him for short periods? Can the allergic person take occasional allergy medicine? Can you limit these meetings as much as possible? Could either one (or both) attend remotely?

      At least you should be able to say “look, we tried everything we can, but we can’t do any more to help either of you without infringing further on the rights of the other. The current situation is the best we can do, and if that’s not good enough for you, I’m sorry, but you may have to look elsewhere.” As long as that’s the last resort, and a reasonable person can agree that you’ve made every effort to comply with the ADA requirements, you’re probably okay.

      (Disclaimer – I’m definitely not an ADA lawyer, and if you get into this situation, find one post-haste.)

      Reply
      1. Turtle Candle

        I mentioned this upstream, but I have experienced this, and yes: seating people in different areas/on different floors, establishing different stairwells/elevators, having someone escort the dog-having person to the meeting so they don’t have to bring the dog to every meeting, seating the dog-having person on the other side of the room to avoid cross-contamination issues, permitting remote or online meetings, air filters, even temporary use of mask (like the kind used by doctors) where interaction is unavoidable, and lots and lots of cleaning supplies to allow for quick cleanup of shed hair etc. (we used to quickly wipe down surfaces after meetings involving the blind person and their dog, to reduce issues of cross-contamination for the allergic person).

        It’s difficult but possible. But it’s much, much easier if you’re talking about limited exposure to a highly-trained service animal, vs. exposure to a whole office full of “normal” pet animals.

        Reply
    4. Anon85

      It can get really, really ugly. Fast.

      My current workplace handles it well. I cannot be seperated from my dog. At all. Non-negotiable. Luckily, the allergic person works on a different floor, so we use different entrances and it’s minimized.

      If we were a smaller workplace with one floor/one entrance, or if more than one person had an allergy or a service-dog, it would be a disaster.

      I have been e in other workplaces where it was a nightmare–people would say just leave your dog here while you go to X meeting–that’s not how it works. I need my dog to function, and she knows it. If she is separated from me, she will go through walls to get back to me so she can do her job. It was horrible. She does have very long hair so that adds to the issue-despite daily brushing and weekly baths, so carries a lot of dander in her coat and it was a real problem for people with allergies. It definitely denigrated into team service dog versus team allergy :(

      Reply
      1. SL #2

        Honestly, I find it pretty horrifying that people in this thread are saying that service dogs should be separated from their owners at any point because someone else is allergic to the dog. No. You shouldn’t even suggest taking away someone’s disability aid at all, just like you don’t take away someone’s wheelchair and make them walk because you’re allergic to the rubber they use to make the wheels.

        Reply
        1. Brydon

          I have a service dog and we are very careful to structure into training times when he is not right next to me. There are times when having surgery, in ICU etc that he won’t be able to be with me and I need to minimize his stress during these situations.

          Reply
          1. Anon85

            But those are extreme circumstances outside what is standard in the office. If you have a heart attack and get rushed into surgery, yes, your service dog may be left out. But as Sl #2 said, you wouldn’t take away someone’s wheelchair or nebulizer if they were allergic to rubber or whatever.

            My service dog is essential to my health and well-being. NOT having her is putting my health at risk. The idea of someone taking my dog away and leading me around is not just panic-inducing, but fairly insulting and potentially harmful.

            Of course she has breaks–in very controlled times when I have access to emergency health aids, medication, etc (i.e. at home!)…not when I’m in an open, uncontrolled public environment like the office.

            Reply
        2. Observer

          No, you don’t suggest they walk, but maybe you can carry them?

          I get that that may not be doable for some situations, but you need to realize that someone avoiding allergens is not really different than staying with a service animal. Some people can be separated from their service animals for a short time, given appropriate supports, and some can’t. Some allergic people can handle short term exposure to their allergen, given appropriate medication and support, and some can’t. And I mean can’t as in “can’t survive”. So, please don’t be so dismissive.

          Reply
          1. Anon85

            …you would tell a disabled person to get out of their chair and you would carry them? Do you understand how incredibly insulting and condescending that is? I know you’re trying to make a point, but I think this shows how a lot of people misunderstand disabilities. A reasonable accommodation to you, i.e.e “carry them” is not at all reasonable to most disabled people.

            I am not at all suggesting that someone with allergies falls behind a disabled person in priority–this is clearly a no-win situation for either party. It just illustrates how difficult it can be for both sides (and employers!)

            Reply
            1. Observer

              I agree that it’s difficult for all parties. But, “never” is different from “most cases”. Which means that in most cases ASKING – not dismissively, but in an exploratory fashion, is legitimate.

              Reply
          2. SL #2

            A mobility aid (whether it’s a wheelchair, walker, cane, service dog, etc) is designed to give a disabled person control over their own movements and/or actions. Asking someone to give that up, without them first asking for that accommodation, is pretty insulting.

            Like Anon85 said, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. The only somewhat reasonable accommodation would be to separate them both completely. No working on teams together, minimizing meetings as much as possible, using separate entrances. But the person with the service dog shouldn’t be asked to put the animal somewhere else and let themselves be led around by someone who doesn’t know their needs or health situation, for heaven’s sake.

            Reply
            1. Observer

              Asking someone to give that up, without them first asking for that accommodation, is pretty insulting.

              Well, obviously, you don’t ask unless you really have a major issue, which life threatening allergies are. And only when you really are up against a wall. But, in the same way you don’t tell someone “just” leave your service animal for half an hour, you don’t tell someone “just” deal with it’s presence for half an hour.

              I’m not being cavalier here. Rather, I’m making the point that life threatening allergies are not somehow less serious than other significant disabilities. And that’s the very strong implication from the comment I was responding to.

              Reply
        3. fposte

          But some people can indeed get around somewhat without their dog for a short period–Anon85 just isn’t one of them. So in that case, it can be a reasonable accommodation for Lucinda to use her cane to get to the conference room so that we don’t have to exclude Jane, who will be unable to breathe in the meeting otherwise. The important thing isn’t the dog–it’s accommodating the two convergent needs of people with disabilities.

          Reply
        4. KellyK

          I think it completely depends on the severity of both the allergy and the need for the service dog, as well as what work needs would result in those two people having to share space. Obviously, you don’t ask a wheelchair user to walk, but if a coworker is going to go into anaphylactic shock from being in the same room as those rubber wheels, then you can’t just tell the allergic coworker to suck it up either.

          *If* the need for the service dog is such that the person can be without them for a short time and *if* there’s a suitable place for the dog to be during that time, it might be one possible solution to the need to accommodate coworkers with conflicting issues. If the person can’t be without their dog at all, then other things need to be considered, like them and/or the allergic coworker working from home or calling into meetings they both have to attend.

          Reply
    5. Observer

      Unless it’s a very small place, I would be that they could have found a way to work that out – assuming some good will. Keep in mind that what was described was not one or two animals that stick to their owners like glue, but a whole bunch of animals that are totally not restrained.

      Reply
  54. olympiasepiriot

    What a crazy firm…that I am so glad never to have possibly worked at. Congratulations on getting out. That sounds like it must have been a life-changing relief to get the new job.

    I used to have a dog (she died a few years ago at the age of 15). I took my dog everywhere I could and I was living in a country where it was pretty easy to bring it into most bars, many restaurants, almost all stores, etc. etc. Even when I moved back to the US, I did a lot to make sure I could have her with me as much as possible. My current work schedule doesn’t allow for it, so I don’t have one now.

    HOWEVER, if *that* is what a whole office would consider a positive work environment, they are completely off their rockers. That sounds like a total disaster of untrained owners and poorly and incompletely trained dogs. There are no reasons for ‘accidents’ indoors. There shouldn’t have been a flea infestation. The place shouldn’t have smelled nasty. Am I to assume that people just let their dogs wander around, too?

    No.

    Here’s a hint to all those dog owners who want to have their dogs at work: Schutzhund. You may never need your dog to actually do the exercises for your protection, but, your dog should be this thoroughly trained and you should have this tight voice and signal control over them. If you don’t, even aside from people possibly being allergic (which CANNOT be pooh-poohed by anyone!! Do not ignore or denigrate anyone with allergies.), I — a dog lover who took her dobie e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e she got permission to — do NOT want your dog in my office and, preferably, in my presence.

    Reply
  55. Cass

    Oh my. I’m glad you were able to find a new job and best of luck there! (And this is coming from a dog owner who would love to bring my pups with me to work, but not if it meant terrorizing a co-worker!)

    Reply
  56. Muriel Heslop

    So happy for you that you have moved on OP, and I admire how you confronted and handled things in the midst of a real workplace disaster. That company sounds like a nightmare!

    Also, as a high school teacher, I would like to say that most of my students would NEVER act like this. Most teenagers are pretty decent people, just unexperienced and immature. And they definitely know to look under the bathroom stalls. What a rookie move.

    Reply
  57. Mary in Texas

    OP, I’m a dog lover. I have dog stuff all over my office and I’m a foster mom for rescue dogs. I have 4 dogs of my own. But what they did to you was OUTRAGEOUS!! I have a legal background and I work in HR, and I strongly encourage you to file a complaint with the EEOC. They need to know that they can’t treat people like that. You have 300 days to file a complaint with the EEOC, so if I were you, I’d do it right away. Based on what you wrote, you can claim disability discrimination and hostile work environment. I understand if you just want to be done with the whole nightmare. But if you want to try to prevent this from happening to someone else, I would encourage you to go to the EEOC. I’m sorry that they were such asses. Please know that all dog-lovers aren’t like that!! Good luck!!

    Reply
    1. fposte

      It’s actually within 180 days, unless you’re in a state or locality with its own antidiscrimination law; then you have to take it to the state’s agency first, but you have up to 300 days to take it federal.

      Reply
    2. Not So NewReader

      Any idea what OP can expect in terms of compensation? I did not file suit one time because I could not figure out what I wanted out of the situation. (I was in my early 20s and had no clue what my options were.) In OP’s case maybe she could get a few counseling sessions paid for to help process all that she has been through.

      Reply
  58. Red Rose

    This was the update I was most wanting to see of all the letters this year. I thought the problems in the original letter were bad, but I was amazed at how much worse it got after that! Just wanted to say I’m glad you are out of there and I think you rocked in how you handled everything about your resignation.

    Reply
  59. The Optimizer

    This is so beyond ridiculous! I love, love, LOVE my dog. My husband and I don’t have/want kids and he is the center of our little world. He has been trained, pampered and is spoiled (but not rotten). He goes everywhere we can take him and is welcome everywhere he goes because he is very well mannered.

    I am lucky to work from home but would love it if I found an office job where I could bring him. I really, REALLY wanted to work for Kong last time I was unemployed just so I could bring him with me (pretty sure *I* have separation anxiety).

    That said, I would fully expect for any company to make accommodations for someone in the OP’s situation, at the very least, and if that didn’t work I would fully understand the no dog policy. Maybe not if you worked for a dog-centered business like Kong but otherwise, absolutely!

    I’m really glad the OP was able to move on to a better situation and leave that mess behind.

    Reply
  60. LizNYC

    I’m so glad you got a new job! And I’m so glad you got away from that two-faced boss of yours! She was actively looking for your replacement while telling you the complete opposite about the situation there. I’m so glad you got the chance to blindside her!

    FWIW, there are dogs allowed where I work, and I too have allergies. But no one here acts like a GoT character about it. It seems the dog issue at your OLD office (you NEVER have to go there again! Don’t forget that!) just amplified an already sick and unhealthy culture: one of backstabbing, passive aggressive behavior, undermining, blowing things out of proportion, and mob mentality.

    Reply
  61. Kate

    This story is my nightmare. I don’t like pets. Your coworkers are sociopaths. I’m so glad you were able to leave.

    Reply
  62. LQ

    Evil Auto Playing Audio Ad alert:
    Clicking took me here. – DON’T CLICK! youtube.com/watch?v=6EmPLebFEXU&feature=youtu.be

    Reply
  63. Brandy in TN

    I’m glad you’re out of that crazzzy environment.

    FWIW…. I love my dogs (I have 6 rescues) but couldn’t have them at work because they are heathens and Id spend so much time paying attn. to them, because I love them so. Too much time talking to the pups, looking at them, etc… Plus mine would be posturing the other pups in there, starting stuff up.

    Reply
  64. AndersonDarling

    Reading the update was horrifying!
    OP, I hope you don’t let this bad experience bring you down. I’d like to think that the whole episode happened so that you would end up at your new job, the one you were meant to be at. I’m betting that you will find new and wonderful opportunities there.

    Reply
  65. Allison

    OP, I went home for Thanksgiving and within hours I was sneezing like crazy, my nose was a faucet, and my eyes nearly swelled shut they were so irritated! I absolutely understand how miserable pet allergies can be. I love dogs and cats, but without some serious allergy/allergen management I am absolutely miserable around those sweet animals, so to me it makes a lot of sense for most offices and businesses to prohibit pets for the sake of allergy sufferers. We’re not bad people, lots of us love animals and we want you to have a great relationship with your pets, but to expect someone to “‘just deal” with their allergies for 8 hours a day so you can bring Fluffy to work is seriously unreasonable.

    Reply
  66. Rahera

    Oh my! I’m very, very sorry that you went through all this, OP, but thank you for the update. I’m really glad you were able to get out of there and into a new environment, which I hope will be healthier for you in every way.

    Reply
  67. justcourt

    This company sounds horrible, and your co-workers were so out of line. The company set you up for conflict with your co-workers by not disclosing the building was dog friendly during the interview. Though it seems like they took a few steps to work with you, which I guess is good, but it seems like the dog situation wasn’t working out without allergy issues. The company failed when they didn’t make it clear to the staff that they made their decision to exclude dogs from the workplace because of issues that had nothing to do with you, AND actually the dog owners made the perk unworkable because of dog accidents and fleas. Lastly, they didn’t step in to stop your co-workers and boss from treating you poorly. I can’t see how you caused or even contributed to the initial conflict or the decision to change their dog policy.

    I’m not sure if you’re saying dogs don’t belong in the workplace at all or that companies don’t have a legitimate reason for wanting to be dog friendly. That’s kind of the way I interpreted your statement (sorry if I’m mistaken), and I don’t agree with it. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to be in an office with dogs and why you would value your health over allowing your co-workers to bring their dogs to the office. I think there are legitimate business reasons for wanting a dog friendly environment (e.g. attracting stronger employees, remaining competitive in a bad economy without spending a lot of money, encouraging staff to work longer hours when they don’t have to rush home to let their dog out, etc.). Those benefits have to be weighed against the negatives (e.g. allergies, aggressive animals, liability insurance, pet accidents, fleas, etc.). My point is that the business has to consider all these things, and I don’t know that one employee’s medical condition should be the deciding factor.

    Reply
    1. VintageLydia USA

      Well, under the ADA, by law one employee’s medical condition is absolutely the deciding factor. It’s a perk that’s nice to have, but that’s all.

      Reply
      1. justcourt

        No. The ADA requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with qualifying disabilities as long as the accommodation won’t cause undue hardship for the employer. The employer’s hardship is also a factor.

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          “Undue hardship” has a specific legal meaning that relates to the financial costs of implementing an accommodation; it’s not about whether it would change your office culture. In fact, the EEOC specifically says that undue hardship cannot be based on the morale of other employees (although it can be based on whether it would be “unduly disruptive to other employees’s ability to work”).

          Reply
          1. AMT

            Exactly. I *very* much doubt that the EEOC would find it an undue hardship not to have dogs at a workplace that wasn’t, say, an animal shelter.

            Reply
          2. Justcourt

            That’s what I was thinking of when I mentioned staying competitive with other companies and impact on overtime hrs/productivity. I’m wondering if an employer has argued that an accommodation posed an undue hardship because it required the employer to offer more compensation to stay competitive or hire more employees to maintain productivity. Those are collateral effects, like employee moral, but it’s arguable they have a financial impact.

            Reply
            1. Justcourt

              I’m not saying this would fly for every office, but the ADA acknowledges their determinations fact-specific. So I could see a scenario where a start-up that allows animals at the office as part of their total compensation could argue that banning dogs would result in greater expense.

              Reply
              1. fposte

                But “greater expense” isn’t a bar. Here’s a paragraph that’s dealing with what you’re talking about: “An employer cannot claim undue hardship based on employees’ (or customers’) fears or prejudices toward the individual’s disability.(117) Nor can undue hardship be based on the fact that provision of a reasonable accommodation might have a negative impact on the morale of other employees. Employers, however, may be able to show undue hardship where provision of a reasonable accommodation would be unduly disruptive to other employees’s ability to work.”

                No sane lawyer is going to take on contingency a case where you’re arguing that *not* having dogs is unduly disruptive. You can probably find one who’d be willing to take it if you’d pay hourly, but you can probably find one willing to take your money hourly for just about anything. The court is not going to care that employee hissy fits about obeying the law created a financial cost for a business.

                Reply
                1. justcourt

                  First, I was throwing this out as a hypothetical, not because I think it’s a legitimate argument for the OP’s situation. Honestly, my guess is that my total compensation package argument wouldn’t constitute an undue hardship because the EEOC or a court would expect an employer to substitute the perk of bringing your dog to work for another perk.

                  Second, the actual statute itself says: The term ‘‘undue hardship’’ means an action requiring significant difficulty or expense, when considered in light of the factors set forth in subparagraph (B).” Expense can constitute an undue burden. I think what you’re referencing is one interpretation of undue hardship.

                2. fposte

                  @justcourt–it’s the EEOC’s own guidance on undue hardship. That’s the interpretation that counts. It’s from the eeoc dot gov Alison posted.

                3. Justcourt

                  Fposte- right. Those guidelines outline one way of establishing undue hardship (disruption), but that doesn’t mean expense can’t establish undue hardship.

                  If you look a paragraph or two above that part the guidelines talk about expense.

                4. fposte

                  But that’s expense of the accommodation itself. This isn’t the cost of the accommodation. It costs them nothing to ban dogs. If employees quit because you ban dogs or put in disabled parking or remove the daily stripper, the EEOC doesn’t care–it’s not an undue hardship that bigoted people are opposed to your accommodation.

        2. VintageLydia USA

          Banning dogs from the premise, unless it’s a vets office or another place where dogs can be reasonably be expected to be (pet supply store, a farm, when the workplace is also the owner’s home, etc) would fall under a reasonable accommodation for every job I can think of. You’d be really hard pressed to justify it as a hardship to a judge for your regular bog standard office job.

          Reply
      2. Apollo Warbucks

        ^^^^^^ So much this, there’s a legal obligation to offer reasonable accommodation for people’s disabilities.

        Reply
        1. AMT

          Right! If your office is dog-friendly, you have to accept that things might change if someone with allergies gets hired. It’s very much a conditional benefit.

          Reply
  68. Jessie

    Just putting the dog situation aside for a moment … the attitudes of your coworkers just make me want to punch my computer screen. You did a good job getting through such a stressful situation. Have you ever heard of “The Moth”? It’s where you get a chance to record stories from your life. I think this would be an awesome submission.

    Reply
    1. Jerzy

      oh, I love The Moth! And I agree, this is such an unbelievable situation, and an example of mob mentality, that if told correctly, would be perfect for that kind of telling.

      Reply
  69. GlamNonprofitSquirrel

    Holy moley!

    First, thanks for the update.
    Second, congrats on the new gig! Your instinct to confide in the hiring manager was obviously right on and probably landed you the gig. I love that it’s a good fit and you’re settling in well there.
    Third, I love my dog friendly office and my ability to bring my dog to work with me a few days a week was part of the deal when I hired on as the GlamNonprofitSquirrel. HOWEVER, I am appalled by what your (thankfully) former colleagues did. Your former boss is an asshat and the childish coworkers need a serious smack upside the head.
    Fourth, on behalf of good and decent dog owners everywhere, I’m sorry. Those folks were jerkfaces and they aren’t typical of “my” peoples.

    Reply
  70. Three Thousand

    I’m really happy for the OP and glad that she was able to get out of that terrible situation, since it sounds like she was the target of a lot of unwarranted nastiness. That said, I don’t think I would fully trust myself not to feel the way her ex-coworkers did: that this outside person just waltzed in and took away something they really enjoyed about their jobs, and now they’re probably never going to get it back even though she’s gone.

    Honesly, until someone pointed out the analogy with a woman coming to work in a previously all-male workplace and facing resentment and harassment for it, I honestly didn’t make that connection. I thought it was reasonable to say that this is a dog-friendly workspace and anyone who doesn’t like dogs doesn’t need to work here, when I would never in a million years say that a particular workplace is for men and women don’t need to be working there. I think I learned a lot from these discussions about how to make ethical judgments about this kind of situation.

    Reply
    1. VintageLydia USA

      Yeah if she just didn’t like dogs, not a phobia or allergy, just didn’t like them (and the other issues like pee stains and fleas and stuff weren’t issues) I’d be on the coworkers side– not their behavior because WOW I know kids of all ages who know better than to act the way those people did. But they’d feel justified in being upset. But severe allergies? Naw that crosses a line. A dog-friendly workplace is a pretty unusual perk and an allergic coworker being employed is a perfectly reasonable reason to nix it.

      Reply
    2. Isabel

      I do not think this is the same thing. Sexual harassment is part of the systemic problem of misogyny, and is very much about power dynamics. This does not apply to pet-allergy sufferers, even if they are often not treated well.

      It would be like comparing what the LW experienced to racial discrimination. It doesn’t hold water.

      Reply
      1. A Bug!

        Analogous isn’t the same as equal. I recognize that it can be difficult to distinguish between a false equivalency and an analogy, and that false equivalencies are often presented by people who want to deny their position of relative privilege.

        But I think given the context, we can fairly safely infer that nobody is trying to say that the plight of an allergy sufferer in a dog-friendly workplace is the same as a woman trying to get by in a sexist, male-dominated workplace. Instead, it’s just a simple way to help a person better understand a different perspective from their own.

        Reply
        1. Isabel

          I appreciate this and am thinking this through from other perspectives. I just think bringing that particular example into the conversation muddied the issue. Ugh sorry to reply in two places – didn’t mean to make this messy. I am curious about comparable scenarios. Accommodation for severe health problem that makes an actual impact on the lifestyle of other employees.

          Reply
  71. I'm Not Phyllis

    I can’t believe how out of control that situation got – CRAZY. I’m so glad you found a new job.

    For what it’s worth, I’m totally a dog person – I love my dog. But I respect that not everybody is a dog person, and if it was making someone sick, I’d never bring my dog to work. That’s just silly. Your coworkers were just ridiculous, but worse for me – the way your boss and HR handled it was just absolutely insane. I hope they get schooled by the company lawyer in a hurry.

    Reply
  72. TootsNYC

    The OP wrote:

    Throughout the past few months, I’ve been searching but I was having problems answering “why are you leaving your current job so soon?” Eventually, I told one hiring manager the truth and he confided that he is also severely allergic to dogs and that it would never happen at his company (a small start-up). He offered me the job the next day.

    I’m wondering why she felt any difficulties in answering that question. It seems a very very simple one that nobody could fault her for:

    “I’m leaving for health reasons. People are allowed to bring their dogs in to the office, and I’m seriously allergic. My doctor has advised that the continued exposure could escalate my allergies from really inconvenient and uncomfortable to, actually, deadly. The company has tried to help minimize it, but those measures aren’t really effective.”

    Why would that be something anyone would hesitate to say? Is there something I’m missing?

    Reply
    1. INFJ

      This probably isn’t what she meant, but I imagine the mental/emotional toll of the entire situation made it very difficult to deliver such a speech in a neutral tone.

      I could also see the OP not wanting to have to deal with follow-up questions like, “Didn’t you know there were dogs when you interviewed?” (very common question here), or to otherwise have her judgement/ability to interview well called into question.

      Reply
    2. Gem

      I guess the whole ‘why did you take that job?’ ‘oh, they never mentioned it’ might be awkward? But wouldn’t reflect badly on the LW, and isn’t bad mouthing them either.

      Reply
    3. fposte

      Because that’s a long speech for a pro forma question, and it reveals having an ADA-relevant disability earlier than is often advisable in the process.

      Reply
      1. Three Thousand

        A dog allergy is a disability I actually wouldn’t be afraid to bring up early on. Unlike, say, something like bipolar disorder or Asperger’s syndrome, it isn’t really something that’s going to broadly color people’s impressions of your personality. It will probably keep you out of dog-friendly offices, but of course now the OP would want to know upfront before she ever took a job at one.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          But the point is that it’s not legal for it to keep you out of dog-friendly offices, and you’ve just made that illegality more likely. If you want to, cool, fine, up to you. But the reason people are advised to disclose later is that it makes illegal discrimination tougher; I can’t get on board with a general plan to make it easier.

          Reply
    4. Three Thousand

      I think job-seekers are a little excessively encouraged to be as cautious as possible about not saying anything that could be even slightly construed as negative about their former jobs, probably because so many of them aren’t terribly conscientious and will gleefully badmouth their former bosses in interviews. This is one of those pieces of good advice thoughtful people take a little too far.

      Reply
    5. AnonyMoose

      + 1

      My thoughts too. ‘I didn’t know that they were dog friendly when we interviewed and unfortunately I am deathly allergic, so I’ve chosen to move on’. Done. If they ask more questions, then sure – give them a small slice of how it affected your time there (symptoms, not relational conflicts), and it’s really not that big of a deal. I’m more curious if their HR will really stick to the reference agreement after a year or two…

      Reply
  73. INFJ

    I am so so sorry that you had to go through that. I’ve been in work situations in which I felt helpless and I could do no right, so I know how demoralizing and frustrating it can be.

    So glad to hear you found a new job- and that you bonded with the interviewer over dog allergies! Thanks for the update and good luck in your new position!

    Reply
  74. ZuKeeper

    Ick at the carpets! Part of being a pet owner is being responsible. As a former pet owner who adored her furbabies, I still don’t understand people that feel the need to take their pets everywhere with them. I used to work in a big box office supply store and people would bring their dogs in all the time. One guy came in with three little yappers, dropped the leashes and just let them tear around the place, like we were some sort of dog playground. I kept waiting for someone to trip on a leash or get bitten.

    There were at least two times when I was there that someone let their dog defecate in an aisle and just left the store without telling anyone or even trying to clean it up! So gross and irresponsible.

    And even well trained dogs have accidents. A former co-worker came back to see us and brought her dog. Sweet dog, but she got so over-excited that she peed in my department, right in front of my work desk. Stain never came out, and it’s probably still there, since they only cleaned the carpets once in the 7 years I was there! (PS, don’t let your kids play/crawl on the floors in retail stores, they’re yuck!)

    Reply
  75. Rebecca

    I really wish we could find out the names of horrible companies like this so we can avoid doing business with them if possible.

    Reply
    1. Not So NewReader

      Or we could compile a list of only good companies. If a company is not on there, then everyone knows what to do. ;)

      Reply
  76. Penelope Pitstop

    So, so sorry for what you’ve been through, OP…on top of caring for your mom. You conducted yourself with dignity and grace and landed in a much healthier organization, literally and figuratively. Kudos and best wishes to you all around.

    Reply
  77. Bunny

    Having escaped from a toxic workplace were I was finally fired for being out for a week with stress-induced seizures (I’m an epileptic, and yes, I had a note) — there is no fixing crazy.

    It’s taken me a year, in a job I love, to get past the OH MY GOD IM DOING SOMETHING WRONG insanity.

    I had one co worker who sang Mary Had A Little Lamb. Over and Over. ALL DAY. Then stopped at nothing in her attempts to spread rumors about me and get me fired when I asked for a wee break from Mary.

    This was a state job, BTW. Pay your taxes.

    Reply
  78. Donna

    I would never do it, but I’d love to send those a-holes a deluxe gift from this place — mailpoop.com.
    If ever someone deserved such a gift, it’s these people.

    Reply