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

A reader writes:

Thanks to your amazing advice, I was able to land a fantastic job with a big raise after years of stagnant dead-end work. My first day I walked into the office…and it was full of dogs. They have a dog-friendly office, which was never advertised or communicated during the hiring process.

I’m allergic to dogs, VERY allergic. Within ten minutes of arriving at work, my eyes are red, itchy and watering, my nose stuffs up and I get a headache from my swollen sinuses. This is what happens when I’m on medication! If I skip the meds, I break out in hives, start to wheeze and I run the risk of my throat swelling closed. I went to my doctor who referred me to a specialist. I’m already on the strongest meds they give out, and they said as long as I “expose myself” to allergens, this will keep happening and might get worse over time.

I tried to work with my company to fix this: they put me in the far corner away from the majority of the pooches where I’m near a door I can prop open, they have a company that cleans bi-weekly and they let me work from home one day a week. The nature of my job demands that I be in the office at least four days a week, I really have no wiggle room. 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!

It’s been 2 months and while I love the work, love the company and love my coworkers…I’m miserable. I’ve considered looking for a new job, but every job I’ve seen in my field has a “dog-friendly” office. I’m at a loss – their dog-friendly office isn’t ME-friendly. What can I do?!

Ugh, yes, this is the other side of benefits that some people love.

Lots of people are thrilled at the idea of a pet-friendly office, and lots of pet-friendly offices operate successfully. But they really only work in the long-term if there are effective plans for accommodating people with allergies, as well as people who are afraid of dogs (or other animals) or just not comfortable around them.

In a larger workspace, that can mean having pet-free floors. In a small office, that might not be feasible. (And as you can see from this story about someone with allergies who worked in Amazon’s dog-friendly offices, being on a pet-free floor didn’t quite work as smoothly as it was supposed to.)

Working from home can be a solution, but as in your case, that’s not feasible with every job.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does require employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for employees with qualifying disability if doing so won’t impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. But what’s reasonable to ask, and what’s an undue hardship?

To get an answer, I consulted two awesome employment attorneys: Donna Ballman, author of the awesome Stand Up For Yourself Without Getting Firedand Bryan Cavanaugh.

Donna and Bryan both agreed that based on your description, the allergy is likely to be covered as a disability under the ADA (which covers “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities”).

So if the law covers you, what does your employer have to do in response? Bryan says: “To its credit, the employer has already been interacting with this employee to see if there is anything reasonable the employer can do to help the employee overcome the limitations and allow her to do her job. The efforts the employer has offered so far – moving the employee’s desk by door, allowing the employee to work from home one day a week, cleaning the office bi-weekly – are nice but they have not solved the problem. Therefore, technically, neither the employee nor the employer has identified an ‘accommodation’ yet. An accommodation is a modification that allows the employee to perform all of the essential functions of his or her job. That is not happening yet, since none of the ideas mentioned has worked.”

So realistically, what else might you try?

Donna suggests working with your doctor to see what she suggests:

“If there are allergy shots or other medical solutions, great. But they may also be able to suggest some reasonable accommodations you haven’t thought of. Questions I’d ask the doctor are things like:

1. Is there a spray or something that can be put on the dogs that would keep them from spreading allergens?
2. How far away do you need to be for you to be safe from the dogs?
3. Would any kind of filter or mask work for you?

If the doctor can come up with some reasonable accommodations you can ask for that would address your allergy, the employer has to either grant the accommodation, engage in the interactive process with your doctor and you to come up with an alternative accommodation, or demonstrate an undue hardship.

If there is no accommodation that would allow you to work in the presence of dogs, then the other question to ask is of your employer, namely, whether the dogs are an accommodation for anyone else’s disability. (The ADA also covers emotional support dogs and service dogs, so you have a real pickle if the dogs are there due to disabilities of coworkers.) If not, then a reasonable accommodation might be to ask that the dogs be kept at home or in a doggy day care. It won’t make you popular with your dog-loving coworkers, but an accommodation like that is probably reasonable under the law.”

Bryan agrees:

“One accommodation that would work would be banning all the dogs (except service dogs) from the office. That is something the employer needs to consider seriously. An accommodation is not reasonable and does not need to be offered if it would create an ‘undue hardship’ for the employer. Usually that means an unreasonable expense to the employer. But here, there would not be a direct expense of banning dogs from the office. Rather the employer should consider ‘the impact of the accommodation upon the operation of the facility, including the impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and the impact on the facility’s ability to conduct business.’ Banning the dogs would lower morale, but it would not appear to harm the business itself or the business’ operations. This is not a veterinary clinic where it is necessary to have dogs in the workplace. Although we do not know what the business does, the business can presumably operate without animals in the workplace. So while banning dogs may be a drastic change and hurt morale, the employer must consider doing this in order to comply with the ADA.

Whether an accommodation is reasonable and whether an accommodation would present an undue hardship are fact-intensive inquiries. We do not know enough facts to say definitely one way or another whether the employer is required to ban all dogs (besides service dogs).”

But I suspect you really don’t want to be the person who causes your coworkers to lose a benefit that most of them probably love. That comes with its own set of issues.

Bryan also suggests:

“From an HR perspective, the employer should continue to interact with the employee to see if some other modification would solve this problem. For instance, the employer should consider moving the employee to another remote location within the office, moving the employee or his or her own personal office, purchasing a special air purifier, and re-arranging the office such that only employees with low-dander dogs are near this employee. If none of those work, they this employee and employee could very well be facing the choice of (1) banning dogs from the office, or (2) telling the employee to deal with the situation as is, which sounds like it would effectively make the employee resign due to health concerns.

If the employer faced that choice and chose option #2, the employee could file an EEOC charge and then take the employer to court and litigate the issue the whether option #1 would have constituted a reasonable accommodation that the employer was required to implement.”

So again, ugh.

If I were in your shoes I’d go back to your manager and HR and say this: “I appreciate you working with me on moving my desk and setting up telecommuting one day a week. However, I’m finding that I’m still suffering severe allergy symptoms and my doctor tells me that they may worsen with increased exposure to the dogs here. So I need a different medical accommodation to be able to do my job and want to talk with you about what’s possible.”

But if none of the lighter-touch accommodations work, this may come down to a philosophical decision on your part about whether you want to push for the dogs to be removed, or whether you’d rather look for a job that either doesn’t come with dogs or which is set up to allow you to avoid them more easily (by telecommuting or finding a company large enough to give you an office far away from the dander).

This isn’t an easy one.

What do others think?

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 1,143 comments… read them below }

  1. Episkey*

    I feel for you, but I would be really upset if I was used to being able to bring my dog with me to work and then suddenly wasn’t able to. Sorry.

    1. Rita*

      I’m totally not a dog person, but I agree with you. It’s a big perk. It’s unfortunate that the employer never mentioned this, as there are people who look for this in a company.

      1. Paige Turner*

        Yeah, it’s obviously too late for the OP now, but the first thing that this company should be doing is telling all job candidates from now on that not only is it a dog-friendly office (they should go ahead and put that in the job postings I think) but that specifically, there are between x and y number of dogs in the office on a regular basis. They still need to think about reasonable accommodations for the OP and possible future employees, but the fact that they unintentionally kept this information from the OP is a problem. I love dogs, but I don’t expect to see them at work unless it’s specifically mentioned.

        1. Hlyssande*

          Yes, this. Not only would it have been smart to tell the OP before hiring that it was a dog friendly place, but they would probably be even more attractive to applicants if they advertised it from the start.

          1. Flycat*

            Yeah, I used to work in a company with lots of dog friendly offices (our office was not dog friendly). When I got serious about a candidate I would flat out ask them if they were okay with dogs since it was likely that they would be exposed to dogs. No one ever said they had an issue and I am not sure what I would have done if they had said there was an issue.

        2. Episkey*

          I completely agree this should have been fully outlined and explained in the interview process. :/

              1. The dog allergic op*

                The interview took place at the office in the front conference room. To get to the cubicle farm you have to go through a locked door and the dogs stay with their owners. So the most I saw was a dog free front area.

                1. Anon Accountant*

                  This is a similar setup to my first post-college job. You entered a main door, dialed an extension and were interviewed in a front conference room. You didn’t see the actual work area until after you were hired. This was just standard operating protocol for them.

                  They didn’t allow dogs but if they did you wouldn’t have seen them from a job interview.

                2. jasmine*

                  To me, not being allowed to see the area in which I’d be working or to see my future co-workers going about their jobs would be a huge red flag. I’d be wondering what horrors the company was trying to hide.

                3. Kyrielle*

                  I agree, converting the conference room to your office – if it’s truly tolerable for day-long (rather than interview-long) stretches – may be the only option open to them besides banning the dogs, in the end. Of course, if it’s the only conference room and is often used, I don’t know how “undue hardship” would play with that, and I’m not sure that being stuck there would be awesome either, but….

        3. Serin*

          Absolutely; I’m afraid of dogs, and if I knew in advance that an office was full of them, that’s a job I wouldn’t apply for. (Now, I could be covered with cats from head to foot all day long and be in perfect bliss.)

          1. Windchime*

            I’m also afraid of dogs in general. I like many individual dogs that I have met, but my first thought when I see a dog coming towards me isn’t usually, “Oh, yay, a dog!”. I think it’s because I’m a cat person and I have a hard time reading dog body-languge.

            My close friend is allergic to cats the way the OP is to dogs. She can last a couple of hours at my house and then the violent sneezing and congestion starts. No amount of pre-cleaning or de-catting the house helps; she is so allergic that she can still tell the cat is there. My sympathies to the OP; hopefully the office will start telling potential hires that the office is full of dogs.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I’m with you. I witnessed a dog attack when I was a kid that has unfortunately disabused me for life that dogs are all sweet and wonderful. Your pooch may be the most amazing wonderful loving whatever dog in the history of dogs but I don’t care. Keep it a safe distance from me and eventually I may decide that I agree with you — if your dog is well behaved. And there should be a “no crotch sniffing” command that is taught at all dog training. Why yes, I am a cat person, practically since birth, why do you ask?

              At OldJob a couple people brought their dogs in at night and one of them would crap in the hall. I mean, ew. Sure, the owner picked it up, but I never saw steam cleaners in there.

              1. jasmine*

                When I grew up my family had a couple of wonderful dogs, but many years later, I was bitten by a roving dog on the street while on vacation, and since then I’ve kept my distance from them. Also, I work as a software developer, which is a job that requires constant concentration and attention to minute details, and I’d find it very distracting to have dogs wandering around all day. I’d suspect that if the OP’s accommodation was to get dogs banned from the office, there would be at least a sizable minority of co-workers who’d think it was an improvement – they may have been silently tolerating the dogs just to get along with their coworkers or bosses.

                1. Pixel*

                  I’m an accountant in public practice and some clients bring in their documents in cardboard boxes that live on the floor by my desk while I work at them. It will definitely a challenge to explain to the clients why their bank statements and invoices were chewed or peed on. On the other hand, pets make the world a better place – but I just can’t reconcile the smell and energy of dogs with working in an office that needs to be reasonably clean and presentable for clients.

        4. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

          Agreed 100% about telling all candidates about the pet-friendly policy. I’m shocked they just spring this on new hires.

          I worked at a pet-friendly place—but it was a spay and neuter clinic, so anyone with debilitating animal allergies wouldn’t have applied there anyway. As much as I love my dogs and enjoyed being able to bring one of them to work with me when he had an elaborate series of meds he needed after surgery, I don’t know that I’d really want to work in a non-animal-oriented office that allowed pets. Too many folks are allergic or genuinely afraid, and their comfort trumps my reluctance to spring for doggy daycare, imho.

          1. Biff*

            I don’t see HOW it could be sprung on the new hire though — surely she went to the office at some point for an interview or some introductions. How do you miss all the dogs?

            1. Karen K*

              OP interviewed in a conference room that was outside the main office. The OP never saw a dog.

        5. simonthegrey*

          This. I would never take a job at a dog-friendly office. I don’t like dogs – I don’t like how they smell, I don’t like that they lick, I don’t like that they might jump on me. I have had bad experiences with dogs in the past. I love cats, and there are some individual dogs that I can love (my sister has the sweetest, best tempered dog in the world and I like him) but overall, my reaction to dogs is quite negative. I don’t care if that makes me a downer; I would feel really lied to if I took a job and showed up on the first day to find my coworkers all brought Fido to the office.

          1. Jeanne*

            I don’t like dogs either. I’ve had some very negative experiences. They smell, they jump, they lick. I don’t want them near me. I know in today’s society that makes me a horrible person. If I was not told and showed up and everyone had dogs, I might jump right to calling a lawyer. I don’t know the exact legal basis but I would ask.

            Why would they not tell a future employee?

            1. Lassie Come Home*

              And this may make *me* a horrible person, but so be it: if some new employee tried to take away this perk, to ban dogs from a dog-friendly office, I would absolutely shun and ostracize the new employee socially. Sorry, but that’s how I feel.
              The company should have disclosed the dog-friendly office up-front, of course.

          2. Sarah*

            Oh god, my best-friend-when-I-was-14 had a Labrador that was good as gold when the family were around, but me & him was all about nose-in-crotch & jumping up at me and HUMPING me. I stopped going round to their house ASAP, & would never work with dogs!

          3. WildLandLover*

            I can’t say that I really care for dogs either for all of the reasons you listed plus some. That said, I grew up with a dog and I used to own two dogs that I took care of until they died a few years ago. After that I said no more because I recognize I am not a good doggy mommy — not enough patience, for sure (nor do I own cats for the same reason).

            But, even when I had dogs, I did not expect to take them to work or anywhere else for that matter that was not a traditional dog-friendly place. We took them camping, for walks, and they were free to run around in our fairly good-sized yard.

            What is it these days that people think they should be able to bring their “precious” into a workplace . . . or a store . . . or anywhere else dogs have never in the past been allowed? And I’m not talking about service dogs covered under the ADA.

            Are people so self-centered these days they think of no one else — those who are allergic, those who are scared of dogs, those who just don’t like dogs? What gives?! The other day, my husband saw someone with a small dog in her arms in a grocery store for crying out loud. A shedding, stinky animal she was holding while she was picking out lettuce . . . Ugh.

            By the way, one of the experts consulted said something about emotional comfort dogs being allowed under the ADA. This is not entirely true. Under the ADA, several governmental entities are responsible for developing regulations for their areas of jurisdiction (Justice Department for State and local governments; HUD for housing; and DOT for transportation). The revised 2010 regulations from Justice for State and local entities specifically states that emotional comfort animals are not recognized as service animals and do not have to be allowed (although they can be, if the local operating entity decides to do so). However, under housing regulations, they are recognized and must be allowed.

            As you can imagine, this creates all kinds of confusion for everyone involved. People wonder why they can have their emotional comfort animal at home, but cannot bring it to the local museum. I suspect this is why, in part, we’re seeing more and more dogs everywhere in places we’ve never seen them before. The business owners and managers don’t know their rights and responsibilities under accessibility law and regulations.

            I implore all dog owners to consider others, particularly those who are severely allergic, like the OP.

            1. Honeybee*

              You know, I love love love dogs, but I have *always* been really weirded/grossed out by non-service dogs in grocery stores (and restaurants). I love my bugger, but she licks her butt and anything tasty at eye level, and she sheds like crazy. Why would I want her anywhere near the food that I and thousands to millions of other people will eat?

        6. K.*

          Agreed. I’m mad at the company for not disclosing this at the outset. Dog allergies and fears are common and it seems like this hasn’t come up before at the company, which is really surprising to me.

        7. Emily*

          Yeah – I love dogs, but even I would be surprised to see a bunch of them at the office. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t mention it early on in the hiring process, especially since there are bound to be people with allergies (like OP) or other issues.

        8. rdb0924*

          The LW said the employer didn’t disclose the dog-friendly policy. So, were the interviews for this position conducted off site, or were all the incumbent employees told to leave the dogs home that day, or something?

      2. Sadsack*

        What if bring your dog to work day was one day a week instead of every day? It could be the day that OP works from home.

        1. ScotlandLove*

          Understand where you’re coming from, but pet allergens spread just from their presence. I brought a box of reports home and my coworker broke out in hives the next day after I brought it back because he is super allergic to my cat. He’s still afraid to touch that particular document lol

          1. Nashira*

            I have entire years of documents like this at my office, thanks to my hideous dust allergy and a state government too cheap to clean properly. I pretty much know that once we get past the year 2013, it’s Benadryl, gloves, and mask time.

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              Yes! I can’t touch old file boxes or anything like that without getting little blisters on my knuckles. When I moved into my house, the landlord had just put new carpet in, and I couldn’t even walk barefoot for months. Whatever chemicals were in the carpet also caused blisters and itching.

          2. Valar M.*

            Yep. I have severe allergies and sometimes I’ll touch something totally normal like a door handle and suddenly break out into localized hives. Its awful and people think you’re crazy until they see it for themselves.

        2. BRR*

          I’m going to guess that wouldn’t work. Dog hair is like glitter, it gets everywhere and you can never get rid of it completely.

          1. ElCee*

            So true. And if you have a short-haired dog, it weaves itself into the threads of whatever fabric you are wearing, so that you are never without that special essence of canine. -_-

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              You have obviously seen my wardrobe. I have several dresses with buddy hair in them that just won’t work its way free.

            2. Chani*

              Yup. When I was a teenager, I knew it was time to wash my bra when I started finding dog hairs embedded in it. Some of them were quite painful. :(
              For that matter, a couple of times I got dog hair embedded in my heel! They’re like frigging needles! I still shudder at the memory :/

      3. JB (not in Houston)*

        Yeah, I can’t believe that this was never mentioned. LOTS of people have dog allergies. Lots of people are afraid of dogs. Lots of people just don’t like them. I feel like we kind of have an attitude in this country that if you don’t want dogs around, you should suffer in silence.

        1. moss*

          Totally agree. I love dogs. But I am very cautious around dogs. They’re faster, smarter (in some ways), and stronger than I am. They are only cool because they want to be. If they got frightened or hurt and lashed out… well,that could be very bad for a bystander.

        2. Jeanne*

          Yes. We’ve gotten to the point that if you don’t like pets you are an awful person. I don’t know why but I despise it. I don’t want to be around dogs, cats, birds. Is it really so awful to control your dog on his leash or put him in the bedroom if you invite me over? The comfort of your pet is more important than the comfort of your guest. Ick.

          1. The Strand*

            I agree with leashes, people who abhor leashes in open air are not being respectful to others, but for many of us, the animals we live with are like family. We are not going to lock up Aunt May all night because a (non allergic) guest came over, though it is crucial Aunt May not jump on them or start tugging on them, either.

            1. Broke Law Student*

              But a dog isn’t a person, it’s just not. You may feel like your dog is sort of like your family, but it’s incredibly rude to put a person in a bedroom all night because the guest feels uncomfortable with him/her, and just not for a dog. Putting a dog in the bedroom is normal, friendly, kind behavior to your guests! If you have a guest who is scared or allergic, I would seriously rethink the refusal, because I do think that your guest’s comfort is more important, for a few hours, than your dog’s. Obviously if you were talking about a roommate or someone living long-term, your answer could be different!

              1. Biff*

                Uh no. The dog is a person, just not a human person. And that person LIVES in my house. It is THEIR house, not yours. If you don’t want to interact with my dog, that’s cool by me, but don’t come over and insist I put the dog away.

                1. Biff*

                  I am up-front about the fact that it’s the dog’s house. And she goes most places with me, so most people don’t ‘miss’ the fact I have a dog.

                2. Jeanne*

                  No, dogs are not people. They don’t behave like people. No one else licks me and sniffs my crotch when I go out to dinner. Inviting a friend over is about hospitality, making people comfortable. If you can’t put your dog in a room for an hour because I have a real fear and am immune compromised, then you are not hospitable. People care about their friends and their comfort or they are not friends.

                3. mander*

                  I happen to like dogs, but if I had one currently I’d keep it away from any guests unless I knew they were ok with them. Especially if I knew my guest was allergic or afraid of them. It strikes me as incredibly rude and unfeeling to demand that my guest be uncomfortable in my house because I’m unwilling to put the dog in the kennel or the back yard for a few hours.

              2. S*

                I don’t even have a dog, but I would be extremely upset + guaranteed to not invite that guest to my home again if they insisted that I needed to put my dog in a room when they’re there. My dog is the one who lives in my home, not the guest.

              3. Kelly*

                My parents got a Weimaraner after I left for college and the dog is rather pampered. He’s a big dog, whose size was a bit too much for some visitors, including my father’s late mother. He was 45 lbs at 4 months and is 85 lbs as an adult. He lost his invitation to grandma’s house when she saw him as a puppy. The dog is gentle and well trained. He’s been trained to go to the floor if someone doesn’t want him sitting next to them. He did go through an extended puppy phrase, but that’s common with the breed. Even during the first couple years, he was ready to settle down after his long walk. The most expensive thing he destroyed was the remote and he’s never peed on the furniture/flooring or bitten anyone.

                The issue with him is his size. My dad’s family really likes little, yappy dogs. His late mother had this Maltese which never was properly housetrained or taken to obedience training. The dog never had much of a tolerance for young kids, even as a puppy. Given that there were families with younger children as frequent visitors, a sensible dog owner would have seen that as a problem. Not my grandmother, who was rather self centered. We learned to avoid the dog when we visited. My mother and one of her sister in laws banned the dog as a visitor because of its lack of manners.

              4. The Strand*

                I would not put a person or a dog in a bedroom all night. A cat, yes – I put them in the back of the house on Halloween to make them and the trick or treating kids more comfortable, and the dogs outside.

                If it was someone deathly allergic who was a dear friend or family member, I would put them into a hotel or consider petsitting. Frankly, someone that allergic wouldn’t do well in the house because of the dander in the air, so a hotel would be safer for them. But someone who doesn’t *like* animals demanding that I put them all away all day? That’s not great guest behavior. That’s like my mother in law who insisted we buy her a coffee maker before she visited so she could make her own coffee.

                It’s not normal, friendly, kind behavior if the dogs bark and whimper all night.

                We keep our guest bedroom closed at all times and the pets are not supposed to be in there. If my guests want to cuddle with a cat all night, they can, but no one has to worry about a pet being in their face, they get a private room to sleep in.

                I do have a friend who is allergic (but not deathly allergic), and a little nervous about most pets, but likes to come over. We get the dogs outside for part of his visit, we clean the room and all dander, put down a blanket, and provide allergy medication for him if he needs it. I also have gates to separate my pets if needed, so someone can do work on the house without my dogs going nuts. An hour’s nothing, but five hours of a guest just wanting them to not be around – yeah, I’d just rather meet at a restaurant, thanks.

            2. Honeybee*

              Eh, I disagree, and I have a dog. I love my dog, but it’s safer and less stressful for everyone involved – including her – if I put her away in a bedroom with some treats and a chew toy if a friend who doesn’t like dogs comes over. A few hours in a bedroom won’t kill her; she runs free every other day of her life. (Plus my dog is the kind of dog who will try to aggressively love you.)

          2. Joline*

            I don’t think people who don’t like pets are awful people. But honestly – the comfort of my pet is worth more to me than the comfort of most people.

            The first time you come over if you tell me you’re uncomfortable I’ll put the dog away – but after that I kind of feel that you know what you’re getting into if you want to visit. I make an effort to be respectful of other people when out and about with my dog (ensure that I take an edge table at Starbucks and put her on the non-people side of the table, etc.), but if I have a friend or family member that doesn’t want to be around dogs I’ll probably just suggest we go somewhere that isn’t my home. My house is covered in dog hair anyway, no matter how much I vacuum.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I will put my bud in his crate if a friend is really scared of him or he’s acting up, but someone who comes to my house and makes disdainful remarks about my dog will not be invited back. He’s a good boy and I am super diligent about him jumping and being annoying. Mostly he just sits in the corner. Even my friend who’s not a fan accepts his presence because I am her friend and the dog is part of my household.

              1. Joline*

                Well, and that’s the thing. I’ll try to keep my friends comfortable. And especially if they’ve never met my dog before I’ll crate her if they’re really overwhelmed or uncomfortable because she can be rather exuberant and she is large (and yes – she’ll get put away if she’s just being a brat – even with people who are generally fine with dogs). But if I have a friend who is dog averse enough to not want to be in the same room on a regular basis then I think going forward I’d generally be happier to just visit at their house or meet out for a coffee or dinner than lock my pup away.

            2. Mochafrap512*

              Both you and buff in Kansas, which is where I live it is illegal to take a non-service animal into a grocery store or restaurant. Where do you live and how do you get away with it?

              1. Joline*

                Starbucks in many places has outdoor tables. And since it’s not an enclosed patio you can have your dog with you – you’re technically on a sidewalk and they can’t prohibit people from having dogs there. People who bring their dogs to bars/restaurants with fenced patios usually try to get a table on the edge and then just have their dog on the other side of the fence.

          3. Episkey*

            I have a friend who is very allergic to cats and we do put our cats away when she comes to visit our home for the evening. She also has to bring her inhaler and take medication and I feel awful. Putting the cats away doesn’t solve the problem of her allergies, but maybe it helps a little bit. However, if you just don’t like my pets….well, sorry, but they are part of my family and their comfort to me is more important than your comfort! We can meet at Starbucks then lol.

          4. Amberz*

            I’m really not too fond of dogs either, in fact I’m mildly afraid, but as long as the owner makes sure their dog doesn’t jump on me, it’s fine. I’m not going to insist they lock it away when I’m there… That’s just rude.

            I have a cat and she hides from new people anyway but seeing how upset she got when we put her in the basement one time because my sister’s friend is really allergic to cats, I’m not sure I’d do it just because someone didn’t like cats or whatever. Mind, she sleeps in one of our bedrooms most of the time anyway so it wouldn’t be too bad to lock the door but what if she needed to eat or go to the bathroom? Lots to consider.

            1. JaneB*

              I would do the same thing I do when there are workmen in the house; provide my cat with everything she needs in a room where she already hangs out (usually the spare room/study, where she has a preferred bed and window sill) – food, water, a fresh litter tray – and just shut the door on her. She doesn’t mind too much – like most cats, she’s a little skittish around new people or changes in her environment. And although she is my furry housemate and my good companion, she is a CAT, and doesn’t have the same thinking about social interactions as us smart monkeys….

          1. Jeanne*

            I can tell from the thread here. We are evil if we don’t want to love your pets. Some of us think animals are actually animals and won’t suffer life long harm from not socializing with everyone. And the ones who are most vociferous about defending their pets are usually the ones with the ill-behaved pets I’ve found.

            1. Honeybee*

              I was actually really surprised to see the turn of this thread. I already had sympathy for OP and people who don’t like dogs, and now I have even more sympathy, because it appears that many dog owners really are that way. (I have a dog myself, and I love dogs, but humans are more important and my dog belongs at home most days.)

              1. No where to go*

                Thank you!! Some dog owners believe they are the most courteous, even when they are not. They think I love my dog so everyone else will too. I love dogs, was a dog owner…but developed a severe allergy to them as I aged. Lately, I have difficulty going out in public as people believe every place is open to dogs. One woman came into Home Depot toting 3 Labs in leashes (although not under control), planes, restaurants are allowing pets in, but I think my worst is the people that put them in the carts at grocery stores and Walmarts. Yes having your dogs genitals resting where I am gonna put groceries is sooooo reasonable . Maybe I should try the dog parks, I bet they are empty these days.

        3. oldfashionedlovesong*

          Agreed. I have asthma and animal/dust allergies, though the latter are not as serious as the OP’s. It’s really distressing to me that so many people, here and with whom I interact with in person, don’t seem to understand or care how awful it is to have trouble breathing. It feels like drowning, or like you’re a fish that someone removed from water and left on a table. People die from asthma attacks and histamine reactions on a regular basis, and it is an excruciating way to go– it almost happened to my asthmatic mom when I was a middle-schooler (she was fine after a few days’ hospitalization, though the ER doctors told us she would have died if we’d let her sleep like she asked). It blows my mind that there are some pet owners who would be okay with subjecting fellow humans to this torture because of their preference for their pet.

          Leaving aside respiratory reactions, my family friends recently got a dog; he’s half-grown now and already enormous. Supposedly he’s in obedience school, but every time I visit he bites my arms and clothes to the point of leaving welts and ripping my shirts. My friends think it’s sweet, that it’s just “puppy behaviour” and he just likes me, and make no effort to put him in another room when he starts going after me. Between that and the asthma and allergies, I used to visit them at least twice a month and now I rarely, if ever, go over there– and it makes me sad that they’ve essentially chosen a dog over a person they’ve known since their kids were babies.

          1. The Strand*

            Yeah, your friends are going to be very sorry when he grows to full size. There is no excuse for letting your dog overwhelm someone who is afraid of dogs, much less someone who is allergic!

          2. Honeybee*

            Maybe that’s why I feel so sympathetic to the OP; I have seasonal allergies and asthma, and I know what it feels like not to be able to breathe and to itch everywhere. It’s not fun, and I would rather keep my dog home than put someone else through that.

            And yes, it is puppy behavior – behavior that you have to train him out of. It irritates me when people think their dogs are just going to magically mature into well-behaved adults. They have to be taught that certain things aren’t okay. And one day they’re going to be sorry if their dog bites someone who doesn’t like dogs and wants to press charges or, worse, get the poor dog put down.

      4. MK*

        Not mentioning the dogs was not “unfortunate”, it was downright idiotic. The people who would have a problem with this for whatever reason are not so rare that it’s reasonable to omit mentioning it.

        1. AnonAnalyst*

          Yes, this. I worked for one company that was dog-friendly and have interviewed at several dog-friendly offices over the years, and this has always been mentioned to me upfront, either in the job posting or during a phone screen (presumably, to avoid situations exactly like this). I’m really surprised this employer didn’t think to mention it at any point. Allergies and fear of dogs aren’t unusual, and it’s not just assumed that dogs will be present in the office (where people with allergies might think to ask specifically).

        2. Sadsack*

          I also wonder why, if it is such a perk, it wasn’t mentioned as being a benefit of working there.

      5. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah and unfortunately it could cause hardship for the employees because them they’d have to arrange for daycare or dog walking or whatever when they didn’t have to before…but they ABSOLUTELY should have warned you that was extremely shortsighted on their part

        1. stellanor*

          I got my dog after getting a job at a dog-friendly company. I might not have gotten a dog otherwise because I know I work long hours and it wouldn’t be fair to a dog. If they decided dogs weren’t allowed in the office I’d have to hire a dog walker every day (my dog would not do well in doggie daycare at all), which would be a HUGE expense.

            1. stellanor*

              Because of my industry it wouldn’t be too difficult to find another job at a dog-friendly company. I would also almost certainly end up with shorter workdays and a shorter commute. The dog-friendliness is a huge perk at my current company that makes the long hours workable. (They also pay a bit under the industry average, so if I changed jobs the pay raise would probably be greater than the cost of a dog-walker.)

              I’d manage to work it out if I changed jobs, but I doubt I’d stay if my current employer decided not to be dog-friendly anymore. It would be revoking a huge perk I was promised when I took the job.

    2. AMT*

      I would feel bad about losing the perk, but I’d feel angry at the employer rather than at the allergic employee. Seriously, they’ve NEVER thought about what would happen if they hired someone with allergies? Never had to accommodate someone before? Never set aside a dog-free section?

      1. NickelandDime*

        This! I am really angry at this company for this. A LOT OF PEOPLE are allergic to dogs!

        1. Cass*

          I see what you are saying – but I think most (or at least the people I’ve come across, including myself) the allergies aren’t as severe as OP’s. I have a dog allergy but with medication, I am fine keeping my two rambunctious pooches around me all the time. This is a really tough situation, I feel so bad for the OP!

          1. Anonathon*

            True. My spouse is technically allergic to our pets, but it’s completely addressable with medication.

          2. AnonAnalyst*

            I think this is true, but I also don’t know that it’s reasonable for the employer to just assume that employees are fine with taking allergy medicine to get through every work day. I think giving people the heads up up front and letting them make that choice is far better (and again, unless this is like a veterinarian clinic, most people wouldn’t anticipate that the office would be full of dogs without prior warning).

            1. AMT*

              Good point that allergy medication can itself be disabling. I took a Zyrtec a couple of days ago and was completely wiped out. It’s one thing to have to take medication that keeps an illness at bay; it’s another thing if that illness is caused by something your employer has control over.

              1. stellanor*

                I’ve found I tolerate over the counter allergy medications extraordinarily well… unfortunately they do nothing whatsoever for my allergies, so until someone works out a way to ban grass from the universe I’ll just be over here sneezing.

            2. Jeanne*

              Yes. Why should an employee HAVE to take medication? This situation is not the employee’s fault. If I took Benadryl every day I would just sleep all day at work. And I bet the expense of the medication is not covered.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Dog lover here. And I totally agree with you. No employee should have to do this, ever.

            3. S*

              +1. The assumption that “they should just medicate” is a really odd slippery slope. Allergic to dogs? Medicate! Migraines ‘cos of our weird strip lights? Medicate! Too stressed because we’re demanding impossible things that make you stressed? Medicate!

            4. Cordelia Longfellow*

              Excellent point. I’ve been getting allergy shots for five years, but I can’t take anti-histamines because they interact with my other medications and turn me into a narcoleptic. I will take Benadryl if I’m on the way to the ER, but that’s really not a sustainable solution.

          3. Jen S. 2.0*

            And plenty of people just plain don’t want to be forced to take pills every day, especially for something that’s not a necessary part of life and/or work. If your anti-anxiety meds are what make it possible for you to make it to work to make a living, that is one thing, but allergy pills every single work day for something that doesn’t have to be in your sphere is something else entirely. Allergic pet owners **choose** to have those pets. That’s not the case here.

          4. AcademicAnon*

            It’s not that most people aren’t that allergic, it’s that it’s a MAJOR PROBLEM is for the people who are that allergic as it’s a major impact on all aspects of their lives, and for the people who are so allergic that it’s life threatening, avoiding that trumps everything else. I say this as a pet lover who would love to work in pet friendly location AND someone who has pet allergies.

        2. Koko*

          Did anyone else think it was odd that OP mentioned that most jobs in her field apparently have dog-friendly offices? Is this a situation where she lives in some hipster mecca like Seattle and most offices period are dog-friendly, or what’s going on that her non-dog-related line of work is full of dog-friendly offices??

          1. Biff*

            I find her story kinda weird from step one — she seems to have stepped in the office for the first time on her first day. Where did she interview? If at the office, how did she miss all the dogs all over?

            1. Another HRPro*

              This was my thought exactly! I’ve never accepted a job without seeing where I was going to be working first. And unless her nonprofit is related to animals I really can’t imagine that all similar nonprofits have dogs in the office.

              1. stellanor*

                I work in a secure building. Interviewees are allowed on the first floor but nowhere else, and the area of the first floor they interview in is a no-dogs area so they probably wouldn’t see any around. No one gets further into the building unless they’ve signed an NDA, and that doesn’t happen until your first day on the job.

            2. davey1983*

              I used to work for the US government– I interviewed in the complex I worked in, but not in the actual area I would be in (technically, it was the building adjacent to the building I worked in).

              The OP may have only had a skype or phone interviews. When I interviewed for my current position, I couldn’t see my work area because the building was not yet completed.

            3. Panda Bandit*

              She said they interviewed her in a conference room at the front of the office. There weren’t any dogs up there and she never saw the back offices until after getting hired.

            4. mander*

              I’ve only been on one interview in my life where I got to see what the actual workplace looked like before I was hired, and that was a restaurant that I had been to as a customer. Every other one I was taken to a conference room or similar for the interview.

          2. Lexi*

            She could be working for an ad agency. Most of them that I’ve seen are dog-friendly – especially the ones that focus on digital media.

      2. CrazyCatLady*

        Yeah, seriously. Have they never heard of dog allergies? If the dogs are such a big part of the office, you would think they’d mention it sometime!

      3. Kelly L.*

        Yup. Why did they not communicate “Oh, by the way, we’re dog paradise here!” That could be a big selling point for some, a dealbreaker for others, and would help them get hires who like it.

        1. Green*

          An allergic person could still accept the job and ask for accommodations. The “fair warning” doesn’t alleviate company’s responsibilities under the ADA.

          1. AMT*

            Exactly! Just saying, “Fair warning: we love dogs, so you have to love dogs!” doesn’t make it okay to refuse to provide an allergen-free workplace for someone with a genuine medical issue.

            1. Brandy*

              so in theory a severely allergic person could apply, get hired and then make the company not have pets around (due to eeoc)?? That doesn’t seem like it should be right.

                1. VintageLydia USA*

                  Yup, and it is right, because someone’s ability to do their job without fear of dying is more important than whether you get to bring Toodles everywhere. Unless Toodles is a service (not therapy) animal, of course. Then the company needs to find a way to accommodate both.

                2. AMT*

                  Exactly. It’s like saying, “Why would a wheelchair user choose to work here if we don’t have ramps?”

              1. Florida*

                What if Mr. Wheelchair applied but his desk was up one step and the office refused to install a ramp, would that be right? Or if Ms. Deaf was told that all instructions would be given verbally (with no interpreter) because that’s how they did it before her arrival. Would that seem fair? The only reason this accommodation doesn’t seem right is because it involves dogs instead of inanimate objects. But this employee deserves a workplace where she can breathe and not get hives.

                1. katamia*

                  But having desks that are one step up and only getting verbal instructions aren’t office perks, just how an office currently works. Bringing your dog in to work is a major perk. It’s not just because dogs aren’t inanimate objects.

                  I’m not saying OP would be in the wrong if she did try to get a dog-free office because legally and morally, she’s entitled to ask for it. But it really isn’t the same thing, and I understand Brandy’s saying that it doesn’t seem like that should be right even though it is.

                2. Traveler*

                  The hearing impaired part would be an entirely different issue though as there are specific laws around interpreters. Actually, there was an interesting case not too long ago about whether or not a movie theater was obligated to provide an interpreter (at their cost) for a hearing impaired person wanting to watch a movie under those laws.

                3. Florida*

                  Traveler – the hearing impaired/interpreter issue is covered by the same law that would cover severe allergies. This is the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

                4. Traveler*

                  Right but aren’t there specific protocols about what allowances have to be made and who is responsible for paying the costs associated it? I don’t think its the same thing with allergies, but I could be wrong.

                5. Florida*

                  The fee is always picked up by the employer or business owner. If you own a business, it is your responsibility to make it accessible to customers. It’s not the customer’s responsibility to pay for something so that you don’t discriminate. Most small business owners and many large businesses don’t realize that. It’s easy to think of it when we talk about wheelchairs. It is the owners responsibility to install an elevator, not the customer’s responsibility to figure out how to get to the second floor without climbing stairs. Well, all other accommodations work the same way.

                  There would be times where a customer decides that it is easier to hire their own interpreter (or whatever accommodation) than to argue with this business owner or to file a lawsuit. But legally, the business owner or employer is obligated.

                  Similarly, many have said that OP should find a new job because it might not be worth it to get it resolved. That doesn’t mean that OP isn’t entitled to a dog-free workplace. It’s whether she wants to invest the energy that might be involved in accomplishing it.

                6. Traveler*

                  I am for accommodations. I used to work for the hearing/speech impaired. I just wasn’t involved in the legal part of it. You’re preaching to the choir. I was just pointing out the ADA law doesn’t specifically call out allergies that I recall, in the same way it calls out other disabilities.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes. Just like the company would need to provide wheelchair access or breaks to take medication or screen-reading software or any other disability accommodation that didn’t cause “undue hardship” (using the legal definition).

              3. Green*

                Yes. In the same way that I can come into a workplace knowing that there are no standing desks but then request one, or knowing they have a set bathroom break schedule but requesting additional bathroom breaks to accommodate my ADA condition. Or requesting special accommodations for blindness or deafness or wheelchairs. It is only if you can’t perform an essential job function or if it’s an undue hardship that you are not entitled to accommodation if you have an ADA protected disability.

                The point is that people with valid disabilities shouldn’t have to choose between jobs and health.

                1. Green*

                  Also reposting this for ADA clarification: Most people’s allergies to pets can be controlled with medication or result in only mild discomfort (instead of significantly impacting a major life function – i.e., breathing), so they wouldn’t be entitled to an accommodation. This is an ADA issue because OP has a severe allergy that is not controlled by medication that significantly impacts a major life function.

              4. A Person*

                It’s absolutely right. Being allergic shouldn’t disqualify you from a non-animal related job. Or think of it another way. What if a current employee developed a severe allergy? Should they have to resign? Hopefully not.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              So much this. Just the same way a person may choose to self select out if during the interview they found out that the actual site of their office would be in SketchyPartOfTown and they would be expected to work late.

            2. Florida*

              It is reasonable for someone to self select because they don’t like dogs but a person with a disability does not need to self select. I worked at a place that never printed anything in Braille. It wasn’t part of our procedures. But then we got a blind employee, so things changed. If the blind employee only applies at places that already printed an extra copy in Braille, she would have never found a job.
              i agree that they should print it in the ad or at least mention it in the interview to allow people to self-select, but I also think that a person with a disability should not have to opt out because a company doesn’t want to make a reasonable accommodation.

              1. OhNo*

                Disabled people don’t NEED to self-select, but they might WANT to if they get information like this about an office. For example, if an office said that they had no ramps or wheelchair access, by ADA rules I don’t have to self-select out of the interview process… but I would anyway because I don’t want to work for or around the kind of people that think ramps and access are optional.

                So the goal of sharing this information wouldn’t necessarily be a matter of making disabled people self-select out, but a matter of measuring fit between the employee and the office/management culture and ideals.

          2. Laurel Gray*

            While this is true, I can’t imagine someone doing this in the particular case of bringing dogs to work. I don’t believe someone choose to take a job and alienate their colleagues from day one.

            1. Green*

              Even if you had no other job opportunities and had bills to pay? I can’t think of anyone who would want to come in just to fight with everyone, but there are other life needs that may rank above whether everyone in the office is your buddy…

              1. AMT*

                Some of these comments make me want to yell, “You’ve never had a job you couldn’t afford to lose?!”

                1. Green*

                  Yep — I’d rather go into battle mode with the law on my side (and anti-retaliation provisions for asserting those rights) than worry about how my bills would get paid and a lengthening gap on my resume.

                2. Laurel Gray*

                  Sorry, but I think even in desperation, many people would put their health first and decline a job vs start working at a company guns-a-blazing to have a policy change to accommodate a health issue. Judging by the letter, I assumed that OP would not have chosen to work here if she knew beforehand. I don’t think a baker allergic to peanuts would work in a bakery where peanuts are used and try to have the menu items changed to accommodate her, even with bills piling up and a home in foreclosure.

                3. Green*

                  Laurel, the whole point of the ADA is that it’s not supposed to be Job vs. Health. You’re supposed to get reasonable accommodations in order to meet the needs of both a job AND your health. The baker-peanuts analogy doesn’t work if it would be an undue hardship for the business to accommodate. (Changing the products you sell is most likely an undue hardship.) Your analogy would work if this was an animal shelter or veterinary office.

                4. Jessa*

                  Laurel – no but a baker can use protective clothing to avoid the peanut exposure, and that is a reasonable accommodation at least in a larger bakery, in a tiny one it might be an issue.

                5. Protective clothing*

                  It sounds like you mean well, but ‘just use protective clothing’ is not entirely accurate. Speaking as someone with that particular allergy, I’d actually have to suit up like an astronaut, respirator and all, to *possibly* not be affected by it. It has to do with breathing in the particles as much as touching them.

                6. Laurel Gray*

                  Green, I agree with you and completely understand the purpose of ADA and believe all employers SHOULD adhere to it even if it ruffles feathers and denies people of a perk like bringing the pup to work. However, I stand by my opinion that many people in the OP’s shoes would have avoided this work place during their job search if they knew how heavily dog friendly it was. All possible economic factors aside.

              2. UKAnon*

                Yeah, I understand the comments behind ‘self-select out’ and ‘find a new job’ but… the OP shouldn’t have to. It may be wisest because this is an imperfect world, but the onus shouldn’t be on the OP here – especially here where it involves a perk which really is a big perk and is so non-essential to running the business (one presumes)

                1. Ad Astra*

                  She shouldn’t have to self-select out, but it’s reasonable to think she might have wanted to. We don’t know the OP’s financial or professional situation, but lots of people are able to turn down a position that isn’t a good fit. Keeping this information from the OP rendered it impossible for her to make an informed decision, and that really sucks.

                2. MK*

                  She shouldn’t have to, but realistically it won’t go well in the long run for the OP to become the most hated employee there.

                3. Kelly L.*

                  Yup. Some people (for various reasons) would choose to take the position and ask for the accommodation, some would (for various reasons) choose to pass, and some people would see the dogs as a plus. So they’re not just causing illness in people who didn’t know, they’re probably missing out on candidates who would want to work there. :)

                4. Chalupa Batman*

                  Ad Astra said exactly what I was thinking, only better than I would have said it. Good, bad, or indifferent on the issue of dog friendly workplaces overall, not even having the option to turn the job down or ask what accommodations are available before accepting wasn’t ok. For some people, a dog friendly workplace might work with the accommodations the OP has received. Since OP says this is common in their industry/area, someone with allergies may even already know what the dealbreakers are (number of dogs, frequency of doggie days, etc.) to make it work for them. Even if OP financially really couldn’t turn down a job, if it’s a choice between a job in your field or your health, many people would choose to leave their industry for a while to pay the bills before they’d accept work in conditions that were legitimately a health issue.

                5. Alice*

                  I get what your saying but I also agree with Ad Astra. It is something the employer left out that needs to be said. Even if I wasn’t allergic to dogs I would be a little peeved that they never mentioned the common occurrence of Fido in the office. It isn’t a thing that most offices have.

            2. M*

              I hate the idea of someone not being able to take a job they’d love (as the OP appears to here) because of a “perk” the other employees enjoy. I think making the office safe and comfortable for everyone should trump this perk.

                1. Molly*

                  Right. I’m confused — if the office is ADA-obligated to accomodate her medical need, couldn’t they also not refuse to hire the person if they’re allergic? I guess they could hope for the self-selecting out road, but if they’d stated that it was a dog-friendly office during the interview, and the applicant says they’re allergic but still interested in the job, wouldn’t this boil down to the same scenario they’re in now?

                2. Jessa*

                  Molly the only way they could refuse to hire is if there was no available reasonable accommodation. And there is one. Unless dogs are a requirement to the business – vet office, they are all service animals, agent that places animals in movies, etc. The most stringent reasonable accommodation would be “remove the dogs, or set aside a place FOR the dogs that is not on the work floor” ie, put in a doggie daycare, or a pro doggie floor and hire a dog minder. But there are numerous accommodations that could happen depending on the severity of the allergies or problem with dogs. And they can’t refuse to hire if there are any of them including removing the dogs, available to them. That would get them sued if it was found out.

                3. fposte*

                  It might; it might also mean that this changed the weighting between this job and another offer, or alerted her that she would have to undergo a negotiation she didn’t want to undergo. And if she had been afraid of dogs rather than suffering from something ADA eligible, she would have no legal leverage at all, so knowing in advance would be really important.

                  It doesn’t mean the employee has to disclose, but the workplace really needs to make it clear to an applicant any time there’s a situation out of the office norm that’s going to be a part of their work experience. “The highway closes in October and we have to drive over the lake to get here” or “the office keeps Kosher” or “we all have dogs.” It’s not good for employer or employee for the staff to be surprised once they actually start.

                4. Molly*

                  No, it’s not good to be surprised. But if her dog allergy is ADA-protected, one could argue that the company shouldn’t disclose it from a legal protection standpoint because they could be accused of not hiring for being unwilling to make that accomodation. Obviously not OP’s situation, and wouldn’t have been, I don’t think – but just saying that there’s a flip side. Devil’s advocate and all.

              1. PlainJane*

                This. I love dogs and am fortunate enough not to be allergic, but unless you work in a veterinary clinic or other animal-centric business, dogs are not essential to running the office. Maybe the employer could offer credit toward doggie daycare in lieu of this perk. But the rights of all employees to succeed based on professional qualifications (not lack of allergies) trumps the right of us dog owners to bring our pets to work.

                1. Anx*

                  I agree. I feel like a Debbie Downer, but I’d much rather work at a company that was flexible about taking care of my animals than bringing them to work (dog walker has the flu, I need come in late today).

                  There are also some businesses where I’d self-select out if I was not into dogs. Restaurants and breweries where I am have a lot of dogs. So I’d not apply to those. Small retail shops wherever I’ve lived tended to have dogs or cats. But people also bring their dogs into work on a college campus, and that kind of irks me because you’re contaminating a huge building at a public college with allergens for the next 2 years (I think it’s two) and I wouldn’t think to seek that out if I was interviewing to work or applying to a specific college (unless in was in an animal science program).

      4. INTP*

        A lot of people think non-life-threatening allergies can be treated with a daily pill or are just a little discomfort while exposed to the allergen. I personally cannot even take nondrowsy antihistamines daily – I need 11 hours to sleep off a Zyrtec or I can’t think straight. Even for those who can, they don’t control all symptoms. And it’s not just a little sneezing. Regular exposure makes you have frequent upper respiratory infections, worsens serious conditions like asthma, etc. many people with allergies base many life decisions around controlling their allergies (I had to pay higher rent for a nonsmoking building, I know people whose romantic lives have been seriously affected because they can’t live with an SO due to pets)…and then in a situation like this, people will assume you’re just waltzing in pettily trying to ruin their dog perk so you don’t sneeze.

        1. GOG11*

          I have asthma and it’s triggered by smoke and fragrances (among other things) and put up signs at work (HR’s idea) requesting that people not sit in the lobby that I’m in if they’re wearing fragrances or if they’ve been around cigarette smoke. One girl laughed at the sign.

          Go ahead and laugh. When my airways close and I die in front of you and traumatize you for life we’ll see who’s laughing.

          1. Lauren*

            Same thing happened to me! I put up a sign in the women’s restroom to kindly ask that women refrain from fragrant lotion/perfume, and I got laughed right out of there. It causes serious migraines for me and the team surrounding my cubicle was literally passing around a bottle of horrible lotion every day. Are you going to pay my ER bill or…?

            It’s amazing how people ignore policies when they don’t apply to them!

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              I used to throw up every single day because my cubicle mate used a Glade plug-in 24/7. It gave me such a headache, and then the headache made me sick to my stomach. It doesn’t matter if I like the scent; whatever chemicals they use in some of them make me terribly ill. For example, I love fresh lilacs, but lilac-scented candles and air fresheners kill me. Same with vanilla and anything marketed as a tropical/beach scent. Once I find something I like, I stick with it (hello, Macintosh apple scent from Yankee Candle!).

              1. Ad Astra*

                Gross! Did you ask her to take it out? Using a Glade plug-in at your cubicle is already really weird, but to insist on using it after someone’s asked you not to is totally rude and kind of crazy.

            2. blackcat*

              My MIL used to do this when she stayed at my house–spray things I’m allergic to around and then chuckle. She “doesn’t believe in” allergies.

              1. GOG11*

                UGH. She was a guest in your home and she… I can’t even put it into words. How tacky, disrespectful and downright bratty.

              2. blackcat*

                She was trying to prove my allergies weren’t real by spraying things when I was out. The asthma attack I had upon arriving back to my own home was pretty intense–she apologized to my face, but told my husband and FIL that she thought it was all a show.

                I used to like my MIL until she got into this thing about proving that my allergies aren’t real–my husband and I used to live near them, so the overnight visits happened after YEARS of this never being an issue–I’m medicated all the time, and it takes some pretty specific stuff to get a bad reaction out of me. In all of my other interactions with her, she’s been lovely. So some people are just very weird about allergies.

              3. Cordelia Naismith*

                I think I would have to rescind the invitation and make her stay in a hotel if she did that. I know that might cause family drama, but so does deliberately exposing someone to allergens for no reason! That’s really appalling behavior.

              4. davey1983*

                Ugh, the people who don’t ‘believe’ in allergies are the worse! I’m not supper allergic, but I get headaches, a runny nose, and can’t think straight around cigarette smoke and perfume/cologne.

                I also find the individuals who say I can just live with it or take a pill every morning and just live with it rather annoying (and misinformed). Let’s see how productive you are when you have a headache, runny nose, and can’t think straight for 8 hours straight (allergy pills either make me drowsy, or have little effect).

            3. GOG11*

              But…but…my right to express myself by smelling like lavender melon mocha Christmas-cookie sprinkle surprise trumps your right to breathe!

              A little goes a long way, people.

              1. Tyrannosaurus Regina*

                Reminiscent of the great Air Freshener Battles of ’09 at my old job. Some people just Did Not Get that anybody could legitimately object to their use (their constant, liberal use) of those scented aerosol sprays. It became a whole Thing. They straight-up said they thought their “right” to use that garbage trumped another employee’s right TO BREATHE. Argh!

                Interesting article on from a person who suffers from a very serious allergy to a common scent: “I Am Deathly Allergic To The World’s Most Popular Smell”

            4. Rebecca*

              Yes! I get bad migraines from fragrances as well! And it has absolutely nothing to do with whether I like the scent, for some reason people seem to think that.

              I feel like people don’t marinate in fragrance the way they used to, though. Thankfully! I still remember growing up (late ’80’s/early ’90’s) that was much more common.

              1. Cath in Canada*

                I agree that people are generally better about not marinating in perfume now, but there are exceptions. I recently bought a top that someone must have worn and then returned to the store. It’s in like-new condition, but one thing I didn’t notice in the store is that it reeks of nasty perfume! I had to wash it three times before I could wear it (I’m wearing it for the first time today, actually). What must that woman’s house smell like?!

                Also, a couple of years ago there was someone waiting to get on the same 10 hour flight as me who I could smell from across the waiting area. I was so very very pleased that she wasn’t sitting near me – I think I would have had to move (I have the type of asthma that makes you cough instead of wheeze. I would have coughed all the way to London). Who puts on that much perfume before getting into a sealed metal tube with hundreds of people for 10 hours?!

                1. Rebecca*

                  Oh, yeah, there are definitely exceptions! The worst is when someone douses themselves in cologne/perfume and then gets on the treadmill next to me at the gym. That is way worse than BO to me!

                2. Alison Hendrix*

                  Yuck. I am not allergic to perfumes but I hate people who practically bathed in it – I don’t get it – if they have horrible BO it does not mask the BO – it just creates this heady mix of BO and floral, musky assault to nostrils.

                  I knew a guy who uses Calvin Klein like crazy. I can smell him approaching. I also have another guy friend who roomed with us a few months but he didn’t splash himself as bad as Calvin Klein guy, he wasn’t around much, however I knew he is/was there when I smell his cologne and I knew he was going out. The house would smell like cologne for a while, it even overpowered the smell of greasy food I was cooking.

            5. INTP*

              A woman I worked with knew that a) I had allergies and b) she wore a ton of perfume. They say that people don’t know they wear too much because their nose gets used to it – she knew and admitted it. Her suggestion was that I just stand far away from her. We had a ton of assignments together and she was especially inept with the internet and wanted my help. Was I supposed to insist my boss somehow allow me to do my job without being near her? (Also, a few feet away wasn’t sufficient, this woman could smell up a room.)

              1. Cordelia Naismith*

                I think your boss should have insisted that woman stop wearing perfume to the office.

            6. simonthegrey*

              My friend shares an office space with a chain smoker and is mildly allergic to cigarette smoke so the company installed a purifier in her office. Someone else in the office is really allergic to scents (lotions, detergents, body sprays) so they are not permitted to wear perfume or have scented lotion at her work. No one would get fired for it, but my friend has mentioned her boss talking to people before about how their body spray cannot be used in the office or even before coming to work. It does take effort to make sure that people stick to that, and sometimes people think, “oh, this doesn’t smell strongly to me” without realizing that it doesn’t have to smell strong to be dangerous.

          2. ScotlandLove*

            Ew she laughed? Gross. I have asthma and chronic migraines so smoke and fragrances are a big heck no for me too. My coworkers are good about keeping their stuff in their own space, but if it did leak over, I can’t imagine anyone laughing at me for requesting it be fixed. Terrible!

            1. GOG11*

              We are a university, so it wasn’t a coworker, it was a student. And I don’t think she knew who had the sensitivities as the sign just said to refrain from sitting there due to sensitivities.

              1. PontoonPirate*

                I once worked at a college and would have had no problem asking the student what was funny, then subsequently informing her in my driest tone that the sign is there for my benefit, did she have a concern about it?

                Then, I frequently rouse rabbles when maybe I should keep mum. Depends on work atmosphere, as always.

          3. INTP*

            I have cough variant asthma and am sensitive to the same things, plus pet dander (even pet owners themselves if they haven’t changed clothes since playing with their pets). Since I just get itchy eyes and cough a lot, people tend to assume I’m sick and glare at me for daring to inflict my germs on them. I used to have a boss who was constantly accusing me of being sick at work because every meeting with her would end in me having swollen eyes, a runny nose, and coughing my lungs up.

            I must admit that I do not feel a bit guilty about allowing people to think they’re doomed to catch a horrible cold by being next to me when they are the ones that triggered my symptoms. Though maybe I’ll start practicing radical honesty with strangers – i.e. on an airplane “I’m going to cough a lot, and possibly have a runny nose and eyes, but don’t worry, I am not contagious. It’s just that your perfume/intense smoke smell trigger my allergies and asthma.”

            1. GOG11*

              Mine manifests as a cough, too! It’s so harsh/abrupt that people think I’m sneezing. I’m glad I don’t get runny nose or swollen eyes, though I do get a hellishly painful burning/constricting sensation in my chest/throat that isn’t fun, either…

              Let’s all go on fragrance free retreats together and relish the ability to not only breathe, but breathe comfortably! I’d be totally willing to don a clean suit for that if necessary (I have kitties that get all up in my stuff so anything that’s been in my house is probably slathered in death dust, aka pet dander).

            2. Artemesia*

              I watched a woman spray perfume before disembarking from a plane after being asked not to and the woman next to me who asked her not to literally collapsed from an asthma attack.

            3. INFJ*

              I bet you love the “smoke much?” comments from strangers while you’re coughing, right?

          4. LadyTL*

            I had a job that actually that actually made wearing perfume despite being super allergic to perfume something I could get fired over. Of course it was only brought up because I mentioned a coworker’s heavy perfume/lotion. I was told it wasn’t “fair” for her to not be able to wear her scent because they felt I smelled (I didn’t, I had multiple people check for weeks and nothing).

          5. Hlyssande*

            My friend is allergic to the chemicals in any sprayed fragrance AND allergic to many other things like lilacs, dust, and black mold. And she’s got asthma.

            At her office, someone who didn’t believe her about allergies shoved a full bouquet of lilacs in her face with a snide comment about whether she was allergic to them or not. It caused an instant asthma attack and the coworker was able to get away scot free with a ‘it was a joke/I didn’t think it was serious’.

            I still don’t understand why she stays there.

          6. Stranger than fiction*

            Same here we actually have a no perfume policy and everyone on this floor ignores it

        2. Karyn*

          Yep, this. I take two Allegra a day, plus I have prescription allergy eyedrops and nasal spray and a steroid inhaler that I have to use every day or my pet and smoke allergies will destroy me. I won’t give up my cats, but I have to live in a nonsmoking zone and won’t go to bars where smoking is still allowed. It can literally kill me, since I only have one working lung.

          1. INTP*

            It kills me how I literally arrange my life around avoiding cigarette smoke – I pay higher rent, I now know to look into local smoking customs before moving somewhere (I was a naive Californian and assumed secondhand smoke was an obsolete problem in America), when I lived in Wisconsin I did not participate in dining on patios, outdoor concerts, beer gardens, basically any summer social activities, I do not have roommates because I can’t trust that they really understand the magnitude of the issues and they can’t go get some boyfriend that smokes and assume it will be okay if he does it outside – and then if I ask a smoker to make some tiny adjustment that I can’t do myself like not smoke right under my window, I’m making huge demands and interfering with their “rights.” Like I revolve my entire life around this and you can’t walk across a parking lot? Apparently I am supposed to just live on my own massive estate or private island if I don’t want someone to make me sick.

            1. GOG11*

              Not being able to move and function freely through society can be so limiting and so frustrating. While our conditions and experiences aren’t exactly the same (obviously), I can definitely relate to what you’re talking about.

              One time, at work, I ended up going into a coworker’s office and asking if I could close the door because someone had sprayed something and I couldn’t go outside (cold air would bring on an attack), couldn’t go to the ladies’ room (where it was sprayed), couldn’t go to another, empty office (would have to walk into and through the saturated area)…all I wanted was to be able to breathe and I couldn’t. Thank GOD my coworker didn’t have anything on and wasn’t around smoke or I’d have probably ended up with a really, really severe attack and possibly and ER visit.

              Everyone needs to breathe. Why is it so hard to be compassionate and sympathize with someone who can’t? It’s just moving across the street, just moving ten feet over, or waiting half an hour to light up. You can wait. If my airways close, I can’t.

              I meant to type the first paragraph and then, well, that went places… :/

            2. Windchime*

              I’m so thankful to be in Washington. It’s barely legal to smoke in public here now. Bars, restaurants–it’s all smoke-free now and it’s wonderful. I think casinos are the only public place where people can smoke indoors now.

              1. SystemsLady*

                I’m glad both my home state and the base state I’m in are public smoke free. The former I think doesn’t even allow smoking in bars and casinos, which my inner beer enthusiast appreciates.

                Luckily my asthma is very mild and places that smell smoky are (barely) tolerable for me, but I cannot remain in spaces where somebody is actively smoking.

                The trail left by overusers of certain fragrances in elevators though? Yup, as bad as fresh cigarette smoke.

            3. Stranger than fiction*

              Don’t even get me started on the people that insist on hanging their hand out the window with their cigarette…one day I got brave and pulled up next to someone doing that and said ” are you smoking that thing or am I?” I thought she was gonna follow me home and kill me

        3. Artemesia*

          People should not have to be on medication to cope with something imposed on them in the office like scents or dogs. I just don’t get the idea of ‘dog friendly’ in a place of work where the smells, dander and behavior are bound to be distracting to many, mildly repulsive to some and dangerous for a few.

          My attitude may be colored by the big shot I once worked with who brought the dog to work and allowed it to do things like pee on a pee pad in the conference room during a meeting. It was not a bad dog or a misbehaving one and it didn’t belong in the office. (oh she also expected the janitors to clean up the poop pads in her office and because she was related to the CEO the managers didn’t feel they could push back. At one point, one of the managers did it when the cleaning person quite rightly refused.)

          People like the OP should come before pets and especially pets in the workplace. Being on a high levels of medication day in and day out to accommodate someone’s pet at work seems abusive of the employee even if it worked.

        4. allergy medication*

          Yes. As a person who has experienced allergies, it goes something like this: I’m already in a weakened state from fighting off the allergen, then I’m taking (in my case, a Benedryl) just so I can breathe, but it literally puts me to sleep, and then I have to worry about others acting put out due to the inconvenience. There is absolutely no way I can perform at my best under these circumstances.

        5. M-C*

          I have asthma, and the side effects from medication make me very careful about controlling my environment so I don’t need them.. I like (some) dogs well enough, but principally outside, indoors the dander goes straight to my lungs.

          OP I’d like to point out that things can be a lot more tolerable for you if they dogs are kept clean, like they’re bathed at least once a week. That’d make the rest of the office smell better too, no doubt. So I’d suggest that as a reasonable accommodation for your allergies.

      5. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        My company allows dogs in the office and in thinking back it was *never* brought up in my lengthy interview process, nor has it been mentioned in subsequent interviews I have participated in.

        It seems like we really need to start raising this.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Yup– totally should be! I guess I’m lucky, or perhaps just obsessed, but when I interviewed I mentioned my dog, and my boss said, “You can bring him! I love dogs!” It wasn’t a major selling point, but I did like that I could bring in my buddy from time to time. I also list the rescue I volunteer for on my resume. But reading this thread makes me very glad that my boss mentioned the dog-friendliness of the office the first day we met.

      6. nona*

        Same. I love love love dogs but I’d be upset about causing this much trouble for a coworker with allergies, tbh.

        1. Dang*

          I had the same reaction. I’d feel awful if I was doing something elective that was causing a coworker to have a negative physical reaction.

          Also, I had no idea that dog-friendly offices were so common. It seems kind of… bizarre. I love dogs and all, but I can’t imagine bringing mine to work to sit under my desk all day.

          1. Jen S. 2.0*

            Seriously! I had no idea this was such a thing. Is this supposed to be fun for the dog?

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Mine has a good time at work. My co-workers love him, and we have small, open-plan office that he gets to explore at his leisure. He can sit at the window and watch the world go by, and he growls at all the weird things he sees. It’s a change of venue for him more than anything else, and a chance to hang out with Mama and all of her fun friends. One of my co-workers in another office was in town and she LOVES dogs but can’t have one, so bringing him in made her day so much brighter.

              Mind you, I don’t– and wouldn’t– bring him every day. He requires attention (not too much, but he is my responsibility) and he does get bored after about 2pm. The best days to bring him are when he’s sacked out from boarding or daycare the day before.

              It’s mostly for me, not for him, too. It’s nice to be able to bring him when, say, the cleaners are coming. He stays out of their way and doesn’t need to hang out in his crate all day.

              1. M-C*

                Unfortunately typical of many dog owners to think that a bored dog roaming all over the office and -growling- is actually making other people’s days brighter..

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Same here, I’ve been at jobs where like one person like the owner brought their dog now and again

          3. Not So NewReader*

            I didn’t know there were so many dog friendly places, either. Am reading all this with curiosity because I really don’t expect to bring my guy to work, anywhere around here. My current boss said to bring my dog to work. I decided that once in a great while I might. I have been there 2.5 years. I brought him once. I have enough to do without checking on my little buddy every so often.

        2. SystemsLady*

          Same here. I use this wonderful, long-lasting lotion that just happens to be mildly floral scented. I don’t mind it, which is a good sign other fragrance-sensitive people won’t, but if it did bother somebody I would feel awful :(.

        3. stellanor*

          I would be furious with my employer for inconveniencing a coworker AND me, since I’ve made life decisions on the basis of being able to bring my dog to the office with me but also my coworker has the right to not feel like they are about to die.

      7. Jillociraptor*

        You’re absolutely right, of course, that the issue is that the employer didn’t think through the situation well enough to anticipate what would obviously be a problem.

        However, I don’t share your faith that the typical employee would see it that way! In these sorts of situations I think people tend to blame the “squeaky wheel” rather than the structural conditions that created the need to squeak. If the company were fully on the OP’s side and were willing to really go to bat on the “we messed up here but we need to make sure this works for OP” narrative, I’d feel a bit more confident that the OP would get a good result. Without that support, though, even though this is totally on the employer, I think the OP is likely to bear the brunt of the bad feelings.

        Such a crummy decision, but if it were me, I think I’d bail for a dog-free environment. It’s so hard to say that because our rights depend on the courage to demand them. Unless this were truly the only industry where I saw myself being professionally happy, I wouldn’t be willing to take the trade-off of the resentment of my colleagues for forty hours a week.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is a realistic projection of how this one could play out. Get rid of the dogs and then deal with the resentment. And that will be a while, as people have to find care for their animal and that will keep the issue fresh in their minds. Management might be fine, but OP could end up with five coworkers that glare at her all day long. I would have to figure out if I have the endurance/incentive to ride that out.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So here’s the part that I think is really interesting and tough about the question: What would you have the OP do, if no other solutions works for her? Would you have her decline to exercise the rights provided to her by the Americans With Disabilities Act and leave the job? (I don’t ask that to be snotty; I think it’s a genuinely hard situation with no easy answer.)

      1. MT*

        If the OP can find a similar job quickly, then I would just bail. If not, i would push for accommodations.

        1. Spooky*

          But didn’t the OP say that all the other jobs she’s found in her industry were also dog-friendly? If that’s true, finding a job that isn’t may mean switching fields.

          1. Chris80*

            I’m curious what industry this is that all the jobs she’s finding are dog-friendly. Where was the OP working before? I mean, short of it being the dog food industry or something, that seems like a very unusual problem. Also, I think I want to work in whatever industry it is.

            1. Laurel Gray*

              +1. Not a dog owner here but I would love working in an environment where a colleague would let me take their dog on my lunch stroll.

              1. Blue Anne*

                I would love to work in an environment where you could take my dog on your lunch stroll!

            2. caryatid*

              i work in creative services (graphic design, video production, etc) and all of the agencies i’ve worked with have a dog friendly office policy.

              1. Brooke*

                I’ve worked in creative services (I’m a designer) for 15 years both in Chicago and Los Angeles – about five different places – and not a single one allowed dogs.

                I don’t think it’s a creative services thing.

            3. S*

              A lot of small tech start-ups are becoming dog-friendly! My old company had a rule that as long as everyone was okay with it (as in, all-staff email with a picture of the dog in question and the rule that if anyone objected for any reason, then No Dog), dogs were allowed in the office. I think they now have 1 regular canine visitor, but even when I was there, there were a few days here and there when there would be a dog running around the office because someone was dog-sitting.

              Even my current nonprofit office is dog-friendly on Fridays, and it’s a decidedly more formal environment.

              1. Windchime*

                Our office isn’t specifically dog-friendly, but some people will bring in their dog under special circumstances (night-time code release or the day after Christmas when the office is nearly empty, or maybe if the house is being fumigated and Fido can’t stay home). People are expected to keep their pets quiet and contained, so the dog owner usually brings a baby gate. I think if it got out of hand, the practice would be banned but it hasn’t been trouble so far.

            4. The dog allergic op*

              I live in a small town, so not a lot of job options. My background is with technology companies so I’d have more options in a large town but my family (including mother with terminal cancer) is here, so I can’t just move.

              I’d push for accommodation and getting dogs out of the office but yesterday the office manager told dog owners that to accommodate me their pets had to be washed at least once a week to cut down on dander. Now people are walking by my desk muttering that I’m a dog hater!

              My team mate confronted me saying that her dog has a skin condition and can’t be washed that often and now the dog isn’t allowed in the office. I’m now vilified :(

              1. Biff*

                Can you install a simple air purifier? It might help you a lot with the issue.

                Secondly, how did you miss the dogs all over the office when you interviewed? I’m genuinely curious.

              2. Lizard*

                Good Lord. That’s the dumbest “accommodation” ever. How are they going to determine if the dogs have been washed? Or enforce it? Have a dog-washing station in the office foyer? Plus it’s unlikely to help, honestly. They should have just made a no-dogs policy.

                1. AnonAnalyst*

                  I know, this seems like the worst of both worlds. All of the coworkers are mad and the OP is still suffering.

                  Sorry you’re in this situation, OP. It sucks all around.

              3. Red Rose*

                I am so sorry you are going through this! Working in a dog friendly office would be a no-go for me and I’m not at all allergic. I’m just not very fond of dogs and do not want to spend my whole work day with them. It’s bad enough to spend it with their owners!

              4. Katie the Fed*

                I think you need to get HR involved. Your being harrassed because you’ve asserted your legal right to work in an allergen-controlled environment, and you want it to stop, yesterday. The management can absolutely say “this stops now, and the next person who makes snide comments to OP will face disciplinary action. Grow up.”

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Yes. What’s happening is actually illegal, OP. Please talk to HR and point out that you’re facing retaliation for a medical accommodation and ask them to ensure it stops.

              5. Nina*

                Ugh, this is what I was worried about. Your managers really screwed this up. They handled this poorly from the start, but now that it’s out, they need to make it clear to your coworkers that the health of their employees trumps the doggy privilege.

                Is is possible to have your own private office or work on a different floor?

              6. Jeanne*

                I’m so sorry. I worked in a small office with four people. I couldn’t breathe because of the woman’s perfume. I asked her to please wear less and after that she was out to get me. Got me in lots of trouble with complaints and lies. People are jerks.

              7. Grace*

                I’m way too passive to actually do this but I would definitely fantasize about sending out a video of someone having an allergy attack with all caps THIS IS WHAT YOUR DOG DOES TO ME on company email…at least on my last day.

                This is so illegal and such a tough situation because you’re in a small town. Best wishes for you, OP.

          2. JB (not in Houston)*

            That’s true, but maybe she could find somewhere else that could more easily or willingly accommodate her? I hate that she might have to leave what is otherwise a great job, but as someone who has really bad allergies, I can’t imagine staying in that situation.

            1. Suz*

              Exactly. Maybe one of the other dog-friendly employers has a better floor plan, ventilation, or systems in place to allow working from home more often.

          3. UKAnon*

            It sounds like there’s an opportunity to start a company in the field and specifically ban dogs… there have to be a lot of other workers out there in the same field who would love to be in a dog free office!

            In answer to Alison’s question; I absolutely think that an employee’s health should be put before a perk which is frankly both unusual and unnecessary (I have never come across dog-offices and couldn’t imagine it… is it an American thing or am I just sheltered?) I think that already reasonable accommodations (sounds like much the same test in the US and UK, so I’ll operate on that assumption) are too generous to the employer, considering the medical model of disabilities recognises the problems as society’s (and therefore the employer’s) barriers, not the health of the employee.

            In an ideal world, co-workers would be understanding of this and would realise that the OP being able to go to work without risking serious long-term consequences is more important than having their pet with them all day… but if they’re already iffy over OP trying to accommodate *their* desires by working from home then frankly they don’t sound reasonable enough to be able to take that attitude. Which is horrid for the OP. But I absolutely think that the OP should keep pushing for a reasonable accommodation, and I think that management should back them up on that and help to smooth the way with co-workers.

            1. Formica Dinette*

              It’s common in the US tech industry and is generally considered a perk. For example, Seattle–where I live–is a tech hub and the number of people here who have dogs is much higher than the number of people who have children.

              1. S*

                Definitely a tech industry perk. I’m not a dog owner, but I always appreciated dog-friendly offices when I was in the industry and I find myself missing it now that I’m out. If I were to get a dog, then I would definitely look at a dog-friendly office as a huge perk.

          4. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I wonder if it’s not just industry, but a bit area specific? I live in a city that is *extremely* dog/pet friendly.

            Not that the OP would want to move cities to stay in her industry :/

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I think that what I would do in this situation is decide to leave as soon as possible and ask for a no-dog accommodation in the meantime. If I trusted my employer, I would be upfront with them: “Hey, this isn’t going to work and I don’t want to disrupt this important part of your business culture, so I’m going to start looking for another gig. In the meantime, can you support me by keeping the dogs at home as long as I’m on the team?”

        It just seems that no good can come by staying. It’s obviously bad for her health, and I can’t imagine that it would be comfortable to stay if she caused the dogs to be sent home.

        Sucks. :(

        1. HeyNonnyNonny*

          Yes, I think this would be the best option. In a perfect world, they’d understand. And if they didn’t want to (even temporarily) keep the dogs home, they could let her go earlier with some sort of severance, or let her work from home temporarily.

          1. Zahra*

            But if they do let her go because they don’t want to keep the dogs home, they run afoul of the ADA.

            1. Shannon*

              So they let her go because she was a minuet late one morning or her skirt was half an inch too short.

                1. Jeanne*

                  I would probably still get a lawyer now. The lawyer will help with documentation and probably could write some helpful official letters. This sounds like it will not end well.

            2. HeyNonnyNonny*

              Right, hopefully they wouldn’t fire her, but Victoria’s language makes it clear that she’s looking to leave. Offering generous severance for while she looks would be a very nice way to do it that wouldn’t anger the other employees.

              1. Treena*

                I would be super upfront, and explain that how you have the right to force them to accommodate you/remove the dogs, but you don’t want to pursue that path. Instead, you’d prefer to either have severance or work from home/have the dogs removed while you’re still looking.

        2. Florida*

          I would start looking but I wouldn’t notify the employer if that. I would push the employer for a no dog policy but I would not tell the employer im doing it because if the dogs. I would approach the employer with the attitude that it’s not my place to find a new job-It’s the employer’s responsibility to make a reasonable accommodation. But I would probably still look for another job.

      3. The IT Manager*

        I would tend toward not enforcing a no dog office because I think that she will become the bad guy and it will make for a very bad work environment.

        I don’t have pets, but I suspect the people that bring their dogs to work every day and may have been lured to this company with the promise of a dog friendly work-environment will hold a enough of a grudge to make work life difficult if the loss of that perk is caused by one person. Some people love their dogs a lot and at least some of the people that bring their dogs to work everyday probably fall into this category.

        Also shame, shame, shame on the employer for not making this super obvious before hiring.

        1. Spooky*

          Agreed! I can’t fathom why they wouldn’t mention it at some point during the hiring process.

        2. UKAnon*

          Isn’t it management’s job to manage that sort of situation though? If they were ganging up the OP because she was female or BME or any other protected characteristic, wouldn’t we all be expecting management to say “cut it out” and then discipline anyone who doesn’t?

          1. The IT Manager*

            Yes, but there’s a difference between being actively sabotaged, being excluded, and simply being unpopular.. And management doesn’t have the power to stop employees from being mad, angry, upset that they can’t bring their dog into work anymore.

            1. Labyrinth*

              I disagree – this isn’t about what they feel, but about what they do. 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.

          2. sstabeler*

            except the most likely issue is other employees resenting the loss of what is apparently a standard park for the industry in that area- and the employees may well notice it was because the OP has allergies. If so, you can’t exactly regulate other employee’s feelings.

            In short, going to the level of getting rid of the dogs- especially since it likely wouldn’t actually help due to the dander already being around- actrualyl sounds to be like an nreasonabel accomodation, since the company would more-or-less have to take something away from ALL other employees to accomodate the allergy.

        3. Betsy*

          I really feel for the OP, so I’m just writing this to clarify: the issue with having a pet, especially if you don’t have any children, is that they’re often alone all day if you work full-time. So working for a dog-friendly place ends up being a huge perk, and could even factor in the decision to get a pet.

          Sorry, OP. This really sucks.

      4. CrazyCatLady*

        I think if she’s able to find another job in a reasonable amount of time without it seriously impacting her health (though it already seems like it is!), I’d have the conversation you suggested with her manager. I probably wouldn’t pursue it extensively though – not to the point of having other people lose the perk of bringing their dogs in. I would leave the job at that point.

        Would she be eligible for unemployment if she had to quit for something like that?

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            I looked it up a little bit, and while I don’t know where this person lives, it seems like it may actually be an option. It was a legal website where I read it, and the example they used was if an employee is allergic to a particular chemical that doesn’t bother other employees. But IANAL, so this may be wrong.

        1. HRInCali*

          In California, she most likely would be eligible for UI for something like that, especially if she informed the EDD (department responsible for unemployment insurance in California) about not being informed during the interview process that there would be dogs in the office. But I can’t say if Washington or any other state makes equivalent provision for constructive dismissal or not.

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            If that’s an option for OP, that’s probably what I would do. It would at least provide some income while you look for other jobs, without compromising your health. And you’d have a perfectly good reason for why you left the company.

      5. Michelle*

        Considering that every office in her field is “dog-friendly”, she is going to have to decide if she really wants to work in that field and be the coworker that everyone hates because they can’t bring their dog to work anymore or does she want to switch fields/jobs.

        Personally, I don’t like the idea of dogs in the workplace because I think it would be a distraction (I know others don’t feel that way so no need to scold me). I’m assuming this is a field that doesn’t require direct customer interaction ( or no customer interaction) because surely someone allergic to dogs would have been in before now and they would have had to deal with this before.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Considering that every office in her field is “dog-friendly”, she is going to have to decide if she really wants to work in that field and be the coworker that everyone hates because they can’t bring their dog to work anymore or does she want to switch fields/jobs.

          Here’s another piece of this that I think is really tough. Philosophically, I agree with you. But I’m also not comfortable saying “if you have disability X and working in your field will require that most offices give you accommodation Y in order to work there, which will probably frustrate your coworkers, you should rethink whether you want to be in that field or not.”

          It sucks all around.

          1. Christy*

            I am very strongly on the side that we should not be comfortable saying that. ADA accommodations frustrate people all the time–how much easier it would be for developers to build inaccessible buildings, for instance. Developing 508 compliant websites can be really frustrating–I do this for work. But you know what’s even more frustrating? Not being able to use a website because you’re blind, or not being able to work in an entire field because you have allergies.

            1. GOG11*

              “But you know what’s even more frustrating? Not being able to use a website because you’re blind, or not being able to work in an entire field because you have allergies.”

              +1 million

            2. Mike C.*

              Compliance is the very least we as a society can do to help others function as free, happy and independent members of society.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Well said.

                I’m fine with leaving a pet at home or in daycare if it means my coworker doesn’t turn blue and die on me! My pet will be fine. My coworker might not be.

                It’s a dog, not a person. Don’t get me wrong I love dogs, but they are not people.

                1. Jeanne*

                  Above on this thread, someone claimed they are people, just not homo sapien people. I think they are animals.

            3. Me*

              It would be so cool if for once people acted as though the rights of their fellow humans were more important than the (imaginary) loneliness of their dog being left home all day.

              “I feel for you, BUT” is a horrible thing to hear when it’s literally possible for you to die because someone can’t be separated from their dog for a few hours.

              I used to sneeze and feel like I had the flu; now I just get asthma. Some day the inhaler will probably not work well enough.

              Also–cleaning biweekly is IN NO WAY adequate. They should clean daily. That would probalby help a lot.

              1. Loose Seal*

                But their dog doesn’t have to be home all day. My dog goes to a doggy day care if we both are out of the house more than three hours (I don’t like to crate him all day). The dogs there are socialized with other dogs and there are lots of workers who love dogs there. The dogs get a large, private kennel and outside play times. I pay $8.00 per day for this service.

                Surely, if I have a couple of doggy day care options in my very rural, low population area, larger cities would have them too. Maybe the perk the office offers is a deal with a certain doggy day care for reduced prices and perhaps extended pick-up and drop-off times that work for their industry.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  I suspect our relative costs-of-living are different by about the same percentage, though, unless you are also in a rural, low population area. :)

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  A discount on doggy daycare would be a very cool perk. That would take care of almost everybody. Because seriously, if the other employees were in an office that was NOT dog-friendly, they would have to do this anyway.

                3. BeenThere*

                  Loose Seal I love you for being kind to your dog!

                  One of the things I find hard to understand is why someone would leave their dogs in a crate all day while they were at work. (I’m not from the US). Before moving countries we had pet ferrets. We decide on them because they sleep most of the day and is possible to have them caged during the day in set up that still allows them room to play. They will happily sleep while you aren’t home so they are ready to play when you get back.

              2. The Other Alice*

                Exactly. Nobody is forcing you to bring your dog to work or to have a dog!* Obviously having to give up your beloved pup due to doggy day care costs would suck, but it is an option. And frankly, one’s right to have a cute pup does not even come close to trumping the rights of those with allergies to not suffer breathing problems.

                People with disabilities get told to suck it up or change jobs or magically fix this stuff ALL THE TIME. It shouldn’t be thought of as a solution.

                *The exception here is assistance dogs, who absolutely should be thought of as essential, because they are. But that’s presumably not the case for all the dogs here.

                1. VintageLydia USA*

                  And kids generally are not welcome in the workplace except in certain, usually pretty rare circumstances.

                2. Sospeso*

                  “Exactly. Nobody is forcing you to bring your dog to work or to have a dog!* Obviously having to give up your beloved pup due to doggy day care costs would suck, but it is an option.”

                  I disagree with this on a number of levels. Sure, nobody forced me to get my dog. You could say the same thing about kids, as poordecisions101 said. We all make decisions about how well our current lifestyle meshes with a company’s culture when we’re looking for new jobs. I wouldn’t judge a parent for deciding a company’s 80-hour workweek might not be a good fit for his or her family life, the same way I would understand that a parent might factor in the savings associates with a company-sponsored daycare program when making their job decision.

                  Some of those employees likely evaluated that dog-friendly work environment in the same way. Like it or not, essentially having the costs of doggie daycare covered ($30-40 per day in my neck of the woods) by being able to bring a pup to work represents a significant financial perk. If I factored that perk into my decision about taking a job, and that perk was taken away, I think it’d be reasonable to be upset.

                  This isn’t really about the life choices people make (whether it’s about balancing kids or pets with the workplace), and to suggest that unnecessarily adversarial, I think. It’s really about how the company failed to anticipate this issue and structure this dog-friendly perk accordingly. A tough situation all around.

                  And… I’ve been trying to formulate a response to your casual suggestion that employees *give up* their pet, and I can’t while keeping my cool. What a callous suggestion. No… just no.

                3. UK HR bod*

                  Yes, you can say the same thing about kids, but as VintageLydia points out, people aren’t usually allowed to bring them into work. And I’m sure childcare is as costly as dog-care.

            4. Jen S. 2.0*

              This. However frustrating it is to accommodate the person with the issue, it’s way worse to BE the person with the issue. Plenty of people leave their dogs at home with no repercussions at all. Leaving Rover at home is not going to kill Rover’s owner, but it may kill an allergy sufferer.

          2. LBK*

            It seems insane to completely block someone out of an industry based on a common perk that is not in any way related to the work being done – especially because I can’t think of any other perks offhand that would physically prevent someone from working at a company.

            I think if the OP does stay in the industry she’d be better off being upfront in interviews (I’m sure she’s learned that lesson now) and as much as you tend to discourage bringing up medical accommodations until the offer stage, I’d try to feel out how willing they would be to change the policy if they are dog-friendly earlier on. Like I mentioned below, if there’s only a couple people who use the perk I think you would probably get more traction and have less backlash than somewhere that’s full of dogs every day.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              I agree, especially since there is no way that the OP is the only person in the field who doesn’t want to or can’t be around dogs all day.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I can’t think of any other perks offhand that would physically prevent someone from working at a company.

              I gave this a try, and interestingly, the ones I can think of are all respiratory-related, like Peanut Tuesdays (peanut allergy) or anything with fragrance (fragrance sensitivities).

              1. UKAnon*

                I once had a man on a plane grumble at me (who he’d only met on the flight out and been speaking to for all of 5 minutes on that flight) that *he* wasn’t allowed to eat *his* snickers because somebody on the plane had a peanut allergy…

                One of the times when the mind has genuinely boggled, but apparently people can’t see that not killing somebody comes top of the list. So I hold out little hope of peanut allergies being accommodated without bad feelings either, unfortunately.

                1. AMT*

                  I am convinced that some people think all allergies are fake. Seriously, there are parents who stage protests over schools banning peanuts due to a severely allergic child. Because their child’s sandwich is obviously more important than another child’s airway.

                2. PlainJane*

                  My son has a life-threatening peanut allergy, and you would be amazed at what we had to deal with when he was little. My favorite was the preschool teacher who decided that the entire class would make peanut butter cookies–except my son, who was put at a table by himself. Yeah, because a) isolating a child with a disability is totally OK, and b) preschoolers will of course keep the peanut butter at their own tables. The teacher never really understood why I was upset either. No, it doesn’t make him sneeze. It makes him stop breathing. It’s exhausting and discouraging to have to educate people constantly and to see so little concern for the life or health of others.

                3. blackcat*

                  AMT, yes, some people think that allergies are fake. I opt for graphic descriptions of how I felt when I went into anaphylactic shock. It generally doesn’t help convince them, but reasonable bystanders then think the allergy denier is an asshole.

                4. K.*

                  Yeah, when I come across people that complain about “fake” allergies, I tell them how I ended up in the ER in full anaphylactic shock because I ate a cookie that I didn’t know had nuts in it, and how my mother broke out in hives and also had to go to the hospital when she ordered chili that turned out to have peanut butter in it (which was not mentioned anywhere on the menu). That usually shuts them up.

                5. PK*

                  I’m allergic to nuts, get very sick, but not life-threatening. The smell of them makes me very nauseous. A new co-worker (we shared a cubicle) started eating a bag of nuts, and I said to her, “I’m so sorry but I’m allergic and the smell makes me very nauseous, could you please eat them in the kitchen?”

                  She said “No, I’m trying to eat less meat so I have to eat these here.”

                  I couldn’t believe it. In all my years of asking people not to eat nuts around me, I’d never had someone tell me they wouldn’t help me out. I hated going to my manager about it, but I had to ask to be switched because we couldn’t come to a compromise.

              2. Formerly The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress*

                As a crazy allergy story:
                When I was in college working at a grocery store, a bottle of strawberry shampoo had exploded in transport, the night stockers cleaned off the non-exploded bottles the best they could and stocked the shelves with them.
                At some point over the next day or two, a woman with a severe strawberry allergy walked by and went into anaphylactic shock. Like, throat closing allergy reaction, call 911, sent her to the hospital.
                I take allergies seriously now. You say you have peanut allergies? I’m off to brush my teeth and I apologize for having peanut butter on my toast this morning.

                1. Lillie Lane*

                  Oh, no. Poor woman. This is the reason I’m so surprised that some airlines even serve peanuts anymore!

                2. sam*

                  my brother is deathly allergic to bee stings, but it also manifests in other, weirder ways.

                  – the night before his college graduation, his girlfriend got a bottle of perfume as a gift. she put some on. It apparently was made with some ingredient that was derived from bee pollen. one anaphylactic shock attack/epi pen/visit to the hospital later, he still made it to graduation the next day.

                  – when he was traveling in Ethiopia, he went out one night and had some wine. Traditional Ethiopian honey wine. That hadn’t been distilled enough. He left his epi pen back at his hotel/hostel. He basically crawled back while going into anaphylactic shock, making it to his room and stabbing himself in the leg with his epi pen only seconds before he completely blacked out. He woke up the next morning kind of surprised he wasn’t dead.

                  (This is the same brother who does education work with conflict refugees in the middle east, previously lived in Kabul for a year, and has contracted, among other things, typhoid and intestinal parasites from consistently eating local delicacies wherever he goes. My parents worry about his getting kidnapped by ISIS. I worry that he’s going to eat a bad falafel).

                3. Rebecca*

                  I’m shocked that there are any real strawberries in strawberry shampoo. How scary!

                4. Three Thousand*

                  I would guess it’s a chemical additive synthesized or derived from strawberries that creates the smell.

                1. Molly*

                  Re: horse-friendly offices – I know of one defense contractor with a Denver office that lets staff members pasture their horses in the fields around the office – seriously! Kind of awesome. (Assuming the horses stay outside and there are no allergies amongst the landscaping staff.)

                2. Jessa*

                  Worse than that. I’m not only allergic to horses but horse serum. I have to be very careful that I do not go places where there are lots of snakes. Anti venoms are still made in horses. Yep, die from the snake bite, or possibly die from the cure for the snake bite. Fun fun times. Mostly though they know they have to have a crash cart and epi around if I ever get bitten, to revive me from the cure.

                  And medical personnel do not know this, I put on the allergy forms horse serum and they do not understand what I’m talking about. So certain forms of hormone replacement therapy are also a no go for me.

              3. cv*

                I can’t think of other perks related to physical disability, but interestingly enough all of the other semi-parallel situations of one person’s needs versus the group’s preferences are heavily slanted towards the company needing to change. When the company culture says that meetings at strip clubs are a fun perk, the discomfort of the woman who joins the team should outweigh the preferences of the men. When a lot of outdoorsy employees want to do adventure sports as required team building but someone with a physical disability or fear of heights or whatever joins the team, they should choose a different activity. The more I think about these sorts of parallels, the more I am forced to believe that revoking the dog-friendly policy is the right call here, if no other measures work.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  YES. That’s exactly what I keep thinking about when people are saying the best solution is for the OP to leave because everyone will resent her otherwise. It doesn’t seem right.

                2. PontoonPirate*

                  I agree. It would be a tough transition for the dog owners, but perhaps the company can ease their pain a bit by offering a period of flex time where they can run home to feed/walk them or provide a one-time gift card for doggy day-care? I imagine for some it may be a financial perk as well, but ultimately the dogs don’t trump an employee who has a need to earn a paycheck not covered in Fido’s dander.

                  Although, this brings to mind … if the allergy is that severe, is there going to be trouble with people just wearing clothes covered in dog fur?

                3. Slimy Contractor*

                  You’ve explained it really well here. I feel terrible for the OP being put in this position to be the “bad guy” to her colleagues, but when you explain it this way, it really is the right thing to do.

                4. LBK*

                  This is really insightful. I think it’s a less obvious comparison because there tend to be fewer people who would object to dogs being around (or willing to say it publicly because WHO DOESN’T LIKE DOGS!?!?!? oh yeah me, I don’t) but there’s likely to be more people who aren’t down for strip clubs or adventure sports who’d be willing to voice their disagreement.

                5. Not Yet Seeking*

                  I am in complete agreement with cv, this is precisely what I was thinking about when reading the comments.

                6. Ad Astra*

                  This is a great way to put it. I wouldn’t blame the employees for being a little miffed at the situation, but a reasonable adult should be able to understand why their fun perk is less important than someone else’s ability to breathe.

                7. Sospeso*

                  These are insightful parallels to make, and I agree with where you ultimately land. It’s her right under the ADA to have reasonable accommodations made. Period. I’d like to see the company and the OP discuss a couple of other potential accommodations as well before the company changes its dog policy, though. It sounds like it’s been a pretty interactive process so far, so I’d love to see that continue.

                  If that doesn’t work, I take that stance that the company may need to bite the bullet and help employees transition to a non-dog-friendly work environment. Maybe that’d look like more flexible schedules for a bit (or indefinitely) so owners can check on their dogs halfway through the day. Maybe it’d be partially covering the cost of a doggie daycare. I’m not sure. But (as I mentioned up-thread) I know I would have factored the savings of doggie daycare costs into my decision to take a job with this company, and I’d be losing a financially significant benefit if I had to put my pup in doggie daycare instead of bringing him to work with me.

                  This is one I’ll want to hear an update on.

              4. pomme de terre*

                If a company moved to a new office space that was on a higher floor, people with vertigo or acrophobia could be bothered by it. My dad is really afraid of heights, and I can imagine him being unable to handle an office in a skyscraper, no matter how nice the office was.

                I work for a tech company that does all kinds of trendy “quality of life” things and we recently installed a kegerator in the office. I wonder if someone who was an alcoholic would be able to ask us to get rid of it. It would be an awkward ask for the employee and I can see some people objecting.)

                I guess someone with a really strong sensitivity to smells could object to food in the office, if that was a regular perk.

                A really grim but interesting one: What if there was a sex offender on staff that prevented the establishment of an on-site daycare? If the offender is being a good employee, is it on him to find a new job or on the company to accommodate his legal obligation to keep a certain physical distance from kids?

                1. Molly*

                  Being a sex-offender isn’t exactly a protected class. Interesting one, though. What about a company with a parent-friendly company – would they be obliged to fire the sex-offender?

                2. I'm Anon For This*

                  Not all states have restrictions on proximity to a daycare, FYI. Also, not all offenders have restrictions on if they are allowed to be around kids. Mainly because not all offenders have crimes related to children.

                3. Jessa*

                  In this case though it’s different. Someone who has been convicted of a crime is not in a protected class regarding that crime. Either they bar the person from the floor with the daycare, or get some kind of waiver about it, but you don’t ignore it. The rights of that one person actually do not in any way override the law that says they cannot do x without permission from a court or some similarly situated entity. This would be true even if they build the daycare after they hired the offender in question. My reading of it is they are not required to accommodate at all in this case, but they’d have to be very careful security wise because if someone got hurt it’d be on the employer.

                  And if there’s no way for the person to be outside the limits set by the court (you can’t be more than 100 feet away, for instance, if the daycare is less than 100 feet from anyplace in the office,) then you need that person to go to the court and get themselves legal authorisation to be there. If you want to be really nice about it, you let them take off with pay for x time and see if they can convince a court that they’d be safe staying at their job in this case. But in general none of the protected class statutes protect the offender in this case.

                  Heck in one case a person who worked at a bank had to be let go because they had a juvenile conviction of theft that had not been expunged and this person had worked for the bank for like 20 years. The bank had not gone to the trouble of getting the required waiver. They ended up doing it post facto and they paid the guy to be off while they did it. But the laws had changed on them and the background check had found this and under the new law in order for someone with such a background to work in a bank they needed some kind of federal waiver.

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  What I’m Anon For This said–sex offender doesn’t always mean pedophile. It could mean someone who assaulted an adult. Or was convicted of statutory rape, like a guy I worked with at the Worst Job on Earth. He was 19, his girlfriend was 16 at the time of the offense. (I got told all about it whether I wanted to know or not!) Plus, states’ requirements for proximity and reporting vary.

                5. Ad Astra*

                  Sex offenders are pretty much on their own as far as finding jobs and homes that comply with their restrictions, which can sometimes be quite challenging (schools, daycares, and churches are just about everywhere). But it’s not a very sympathetic group, so they either figure it out on their own or they violate the law and risk going back to jail.

                  As for the other issues, I find that many people with issues like anxiety or addiction self-select out of workplaces that are incompatible with their triggers/phobias, even though the philosophy behind ADA says they shouldn’t have to. In some situations, I feel like it’s a shame the person isn’t standing up for themselves. In others, it’s easy to see why that person didn’t feel it was worth the hassle.

              5. Labyrinth*

                What about getting to work in a really old, beautiful, historical but inaccessible building? Many people love old pretty houses.

                I used to go to a school with several old stone buildings on campus. I needed a (completely different, non-mobility related) accommodation that they refused to provide, and when I emailed the county to ask them to intervene, the disability access person emailed back (without even knowing what my problem was!) that it would be impossible to accommodate me because the building is old and that means it’s just hard for wheelchairs to get around (again, they didn’t know what my problem was, I was just saying “hey this county-owned school won’t accommodate my disability and the county website says I should email you”). That’s when I really discovered that this attitude isn’t uncommon at all, I had always thought of wheelchair access as the one accommodation even idiots realise is necessary. Especially in schools.

                Rant: I love history and would never want to ruin an old building, but some able-bodied people are seriously dismissive of disabled people’s need to ever be in buildings built before like 1950. Which, in my country, is quite a lot of them. “But it’s so beautiful! Why would anyone want to ruin this? Can’t they just go somewhere else?” Well, sometimes there aren’t so many “elses” to go…

                1. Me*

                  London has lots of nifty wheelchair-access lifts and things in their old churches and stuff. They don’t interfere or ruin anything. St Paul’s, Westminster, even if it’s just 3 steps they have a little personal lift.

                  So, it can be done!

                2. UK HR bod*

                  I used to work for a major UK heritage organisation. ‘Me’ points out that there are options in a lot of places, but there are limits on what can be done in some instances – partly because planning laws sometimes won’t allow (e.g.) lifts to be installed, and sometimes because the fabric of the buildings simply won’t support the alterations that are required. It’s not about ruining a building, it’s about the actual ability, legally or physically, to make changes. However – there is a huge amount that is done. Almost all these buildings have ground floor access – clearly from an employment perspective, we would work with people to make sure they could work in an appropriate location. It was actually more of an issue for visitor access (5000 staff vs visitors in the millions – statistically, more visitors had access needs than staff). Most times, you can’t help someone in a wheelchair get up a castle tower (or the winding staircase of an old house) – but you can make sure that there is a ground floor access route, and online ‘tours’ of the upstairs. You can’t let someone with visual disabilities touch the main curtains, as they’re 200 years old and only holding together with hope and crossed fingers – but you can have samples of similar material so that they can feel what the curtains looks like. You can have a sensory garden, so that everyone can enjoy the beauty. It doesn’t speak to your point about schools, but trust me, the visitor industry around old beautiful buildings (in the UK at least) is serious about everyone being able to access them.

                3. Joline*

                  I was staying in Venice a few days and talking to the building manager where we were staying and he was talking about how they aren’t allowed to have an elevator 1. due to not being able to make changes to the house (their rules around their protected heritage stuff) and 2. because of all the flooding they have in Venice they couldn’t make the electrical work even if they would be allowed under 1.

                  Not to say most heritage buildings shouldn’t have concessions – just something I thought was kind of interesting.

                4. UK HR bod*

                  Yes, it’s really location dependent. A Victorian / Edwardian pile (in UK currency) can probably take a lift – they were starting to have service lifts. Late medieval / Tudor (which I think is probably comparable to a lot of the Venetian buildings), it’s a lot harder, although for different reasons.

            3. hjc24*

              I totally agree with this. It sounds like there is a cultural expectation in this industry that you can bring your dog to work, but honestly this is a bubble that doesn’t reflect workplace norms and most people leave their pets at home, and both pets and owners are fine. It’s a perk – that’s all. I like the suggestion that the perk be switched to partnering with a local doggy daycare to offer a reduced rate for employees. It’s much more reasonable to expect that you might lose a few employees if you stop offering a perk than to cause your new employee to want to quit because that perk is causing a serious health issue. If every job available in the industry also offers a dog-friendly workplace then it sounds like they have plenty of options if they want to jump ship.

          3. AMT*

            Right. It’s dangerously close to saying something like, “If you have a facial deformity, you shouldn’t try to work in a customer-facing role because no one will hire you.” Or, “If you’re gay, you shouldn’t try to work in finance because it’s a macho, hetero environment and people will discriminate against you.” It’s one thing to be pragmatic about your limitations. It’s another thing to completely rule out potentially rewarding career fields out of fear of discrimination or because you don’t want to inconvenience anyone.

            1. Tau*

              This comment really hits home. I never got a retail job when I was younger, and a big part of the reason is that I have a noticeable speech disorder and I figured I wouldn’t be able to work in a customer service position and nobody would hire me for one anyway. I really regret that now, and hate that I thought I should put what was mildly more comfortable and convenient for other people over what was best for me.

              1. The Other Alice*

                I have a disorder that causes nausea and fatigue if I’m on my feet all day and I’m in the same sort of boat. I’d have loved to apply for a retail job this summer but I’m really worried about asking for accommodations (a chair and not being put on stock replacement all day) because I’ve had bad experiences. Disabled people really get dumped on at work.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Yes yes yes.

              I have a learning disability that actually does limit the types of work I can do (no accounting, budgeting, statistics, or any arithmetic for me), but if I could accommodate it in a less math-intensive position, it would be a real bummer to feel like I had to turn down a job I want because someone else might think it’s weird or not understand it. There is a small bit of stuff here I have to do, but fortunately someone has an accommodation for that (a spreadsheet auto-calculation), and my boss is fine with checking over that bit.

          4. rory*

            Especially when this isn’t a thing like “my job is washing dogs”. Presumably this is a completely non-dog field, but all the offices have decided to allow dogs. This basically means they are colluding not to hire a certain class of people who have disabilities. This is pretty not okay. Each individual office is implementing an idea, but the overall effect means that the OP, and others with allergies, just can’t work in this field, and for reasons that have nothing to do with the job or the ability to the do the job.

          5. Michelle*

            My thought when writing that was if her coworkers have negative feelings because she gets to work from home 1 day week because she is allergic to their dogs, they would probably lose it if they couldn’t bring their dogs.

            I agree, it sucks. It seem she will get labeled the “perk denying dog hater or find another field. I really feel for her.

            1. Florida*

              She will be labeled as the perk-denying dog hater if HR presents it as “we can’t bring dogs anymore because of OP. THanks a lot OP.”
              If HR is more sensitive than that (which I assume they will be) people might take a very different attitude. HR has a lot of influence in how the rest of the company views this one.

              1. Jen S. 2.0*

                Ha, “we can’t bring dogs anymore because of OP. THanks a lot OP.” made me laugh really hard for some reason. I envisioned a pitchfork-wielding mob, all dressed in dog costumes.

                1. Florida*

                  If they came after her with pitchforks, I’d definitely say that OPshould start looking. That might be a case where it’s best to resign without a new job. Even if it was just the dog costumes, that might be a red flag that it’s a weird place. :)

          6. ThursdaysGeek*

            If every office in her field is dog-friendly, why did that not come up in the interview? If nothing else, she should have said how nice it was to find a company that didn’t have dogs (since they didn’t advertise that). If you KNOW that is highly likely, that is something to probe before accepting a job. And yes, ADA does require reasonable accommodations, but the OP appears to have been blind-sided by something she says is essentially universal in her field. Maybe she didn’t want to jinx a potential job offer, and rightly so, but I’m still surprised that she was surprised.

            1. Florida*

              As someone who has requested reasonable accommodations (I needed someone to drive me to occassional offsite meetings because I couldn’t drive due to seizures), I would never mention accommodations until after I had an offer.

          7. Renee*

            It sucks but, practically speaking, I don’t know that she has much choice. If all of her coworkers have dogs, won’t they carry allergens in on their clothes anyway? I wish the legal employers in my community didn’t tend to be toxic and abusive either, but sometimes you have to play the ball where it lies. Does she have a right to work in an industry where her needs conflict with the culture? Absolutely. Is it practical? Probably not. My last legal employer refused to accommodate my disability (that developed while I worked there) and retaliated. I could have fought it, but changed course because I realized that most employers in my community would have done the same. Now that I’ve successfully transitioned into something else, my life is immeasurably improved. It’s exhausting to have to defend your rights all the time and maybe others are down for that fight, but I wasn’t.

            1. Joline*

              Everything I own admittedly probably does have dog hair and dander on it. I was switching offices a few months ago and really noticed it when I cleaned off the back of my desk and realized there was a pile of fur on a lip behind the table because I’d sometimes throw my parka on it when I first got in to work (then take boots off, then hang up said parka).

        2. Red Rose*

          I am amazed that every job in her field is in a dog friendly office. Maybe she is just in a small town so there aren’t a lot of options? Maybe it is a start-up type of thing? I just haven’t seen that many dog friendly offices. My own office supposedly bans dogs but most of us know that one is occasionally snuck in–it is well behaved and stays in the owner’s office, so I don’t care even though I’m not that big on dogs (not allergic thankfully).

          My daughter is pursuing a career in zoo education (when you go to the zoo she is the person holding a snake or bird or whatever for you to touch or giving a talk about the snow leopards) so obviously that wouldn’t be a career for anyone with animal allergies. But this sounds like a career not related to animals in any way, so I don’t get why every job is like this.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            I was assuming tech, since my wife works for a tech company with this perk — but she’s worked other places without dogs, and the current job made a big deal of how “Dog” Is An Official Job Title Because We’re Hip and Cool.

            Maybe it’s a regional culture thing? Valley and/or Pacific Northwest?

            1. Red Rose*

              So there must be rules about dog behavior? Cause I can see that having 10-15 dogs in one office could be problematic if everyone didn’t play nice.

              1. Creag an Tuire*

                Once, one of the dogs got into a fight and sent another dog to the vet. :( The aggressor dog has not been allowed back on the premises.

                I’ve never thought to ask how/if they handle the ADA issue, though I plan to tonight.

                1. Kelly O*

                  I hope you update us; I’m truly curious about how a company would handle this. I’ve never worked in an industry where animals (aside from service animals) were allowed, so I’ve no frame of reference.

              2. caryatid*

                i have worked in several offices with dogs and i really dislike it, although i am not allergic and don’t hate dogs.

                in my last gig, 2 of the dogs were poorly behaved and had accidents on the floors at least once a month (not just pee). they went through trash, chewed shoes, and ate people’s food.

                one of the dog owners would shut his dog out of his office while he was making (long) phone calls and the dog would whine and scratch and have accidents if not taken out. the implied assumption was that one of us (female) coworkers would walk the dog for him as needed. i really resented that even though i came to be fond of the dog.

                1. Ezri*

                  0_o Apparently that guy interpreted ‘dog friendly’ as ‘free petsitting’. I don’t see why you’d own a dog, let alone bring it to the office, if you aren’t willing to take care of it.

                  This is one good thing about cats – I appreciate not having to take them outside. I do not appreciate the dead lizards and bugs they hide in the litter box, though…

                2. katamia*

                  I love dogs, but turned down a job in a dog-friendly office once because one of the dogs sounded unfriendly (interviewer said it had growled at him before) and because the place smelled awful (interviewer also said one of the dogs had accidents sometimes). I have a dog. I get enough of that at home. :P I totally get why it’s a major perk and being close to my dog is one of the things I loved about working from home, but yuck.

                3. Jen S. 2.0*

                  Frankly, THAT is kind of how I imagine dog-friendly offices. It seriously cannot be all fun and snuggles.

                4. Chani*

                  I liked the idea of a dog-friendly office until you reminded me of these things. I grew up in an environment like that. I wasn’t allowed to close my bedroom door at night in case one of the rescues had a panic attack – which meant I’d have to get up in the middle of the night and try to drag said dog away from clawing at my computer case instead. :( I really like dogs, but there is no way I’d ever live with them again. Too many triggers.

      6. NickelandDime*

        I’m not sure what she would gain would be worth it though, if she pushed for her rights in this case. Normally, I’m totally Team Fight The Power, but in this case, she may alienate and anger her employer and/or alienate and anger her coworkers. That sets her up for a poor working environment, possibly being negatively affected when it comes to performance reviews and good projects and if there are ever layoffs…Sneezy Dwarf will be first on the list.

        1. Kyrielle*

          Allergies as severe as she describes can kill you, and her doctor has said that continued exposure could make them worse. Having had allergies, I read the subtext as “to the point that medication doesn’t remove the life-endangering symptoms” as a possibility. Even if they don’t kill you, they can also make you horribly miserable. If she needs the paycheck until she can find another job, I would _absolutely_ do it. Alienating your coworkers is better than risking your health or even your life.

          I love peanuts and they make a handy protein snack. But if we suddenly had a peanut allergic coworker, my peanuts would go home, stay home, and my office would get vacuumed and scrubbed. Because my right to something that gives me pleasure doesn’t trump someone else’s health.

          Now, yes. Peanuts don’t need me to take care of them, and peanuts aren’t cute and friendly and they can’t sit up and beg. (I never want to see a peanut do that, probably that’ll be tonight’s nightmare now….) But the fact remains, something that gives me pleasure doesn’t trump someone else’s health.

          I do agree that OP’s best bet is to find another job, in the field, where dogs aren’t present or accomodations are more easily managed. But in the meanwhile, health beats convenience/pleasure.

          1. Solid B student*

            I am writing this as a request for information. Don’t flame. I truly don’t understand.
            If you have a peanut allergy, why would it be life threatening for you if someone else ate a snickers bar or had a peanut butter sandwich if you do not come in contact with the peanuts?

            1. Kyrielle*

              For some people with peanut allergies, yes. They react to any trace of the protein – when I crunch my peanuts, a few of those can get into the air. More than that, I picked the peanuts up, so there’s a bit of the protein on my hands. (And my mouth, but that’s only a concern for my kids and husband.) If I touch a doorknob, elevator door, my desk, a pen, a keyboard in the computer lab – I could leave traces of the oil there. And with a severe enough allergy, the allergic person touching those things could be enough to start a reaction.

              1. Solid B student*


                Good to know. I never considered the “traces of oil on a doorknob” etc, thing.

                1. Dynamic Beige*

                  I worked with someone who was so allergic to all types of shellfish that she could have a reaction if she smelled it on your breath from 3′ away.

              2. Ezri*

                I wish more people would realize this. I really think some people who get outraged over having to accomodate allergies or claim they aren’t real are really just unaware of how serious it can be and how little is required to set them off. There’s a reason menus at restaurants put a warning saying that some foods are made with peanuts, etc – there is a real risk of cross-contamination.

                In OP’s case, moving her away from the dogs isn’t going to resolve the issue. If she was able to move into another closed off section of the building that was dog free, that might help. But dog hair gets everywhere, and it would be on any coworkers who came over from the other area. Closed doors are merely a gesture when it comes to stopping pet dander.

              3. Nina*

                I had a coworker whose daughter had a severe nut allergy. They went to some store that was working with peanuts or something and there was a lot of peanut dust in the air. Her daughter had a severe allergic reaction right then and there, despite not having eaten any nuts. So yeah, I definitely believe you on that. It gets really serious, really quickly.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              It’s the risk of cross contamination and if the consequence of failure is death it’s not reasonable to ask someone to take that risk

            3. Adam V*

              Peanut allergies are serious business. My wife’s boss had a daughter with a peanut allergy so severe that she had to give up eating Chick-Fil-A at work (even with brushing teeth afterwards) because when she came home, her daughter could get a whiff of the peanut oil they fried everything in and her throat would close up.

            4. Anonyby*

              Because little bits of peanut particles get released in the air–that’s how you can smell it. Some people are so sensitive that they can react even if the concentration of the peanut molecules are way too low for us to detect with our noses or any other sensory organ.

            5. cv*

              Not peanuts, but I had a friend in high school with a really severe dairy allergy. Another person ate a slice of pizza and then touched her arm, and she developed a red/hive handprint on her skin in reaction due to the proteins/residue/whatever from the cheese. Other allergies can be triggered by airborne particles of the allergen, but trace amounts of things really can matter.

            6. TL -*

              It’s generally not. There is a very small subset of people who are extremely sensitive to peanut allergens who might need a peanut free work area. But they are an extreme minority of the peanut allergic population.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Off-topic, but I’m really curious from a science standpoint as to how these allergies develop. I honestly can’t remember anyone having peanut allergies like this (or dogs, etc., or anything but bees, really) when I was in school. At least, not to the point of having to ban the substance from the building. It seems like there are so many more severe ones lately. It can’t all be the sterilized-kid thing. There has to be another reason this is happening. If I were a scientist, I’d be studying the heck out of it.

                1. TL -*

                  It’s actually a big area of study right now!
                  Part of it is increased awareness and somewhat over reacting – most peanut allergies are not life threatening and most of the life threatening ones are reasonably manageable; however the small subset of bad ones are really bad- but a large part of it is an overall population increase in auto immune disorders and allergies in first world. The most popular hypothesis is this is being caused by an over clean environment- children’s immune systems aren’t properly challenged growing up and therefore don’t develope correctly.
                  Supporting this, children in rural areas on farms have much lower rates of allergies and asthma. But there could be many more explanations as yet unknown.

                2. misspiggy*

                  There’s also the idea that fewer of us are dying in the early years, so more people with complex conditions survive, where in the past they might have been wiped out earlier by something else. Or the view that as diagnosis gets more precise, we now know that someone is dying/severely ill from a particular allergy, whereas a few decades ago it would have been classified as asthma.

                3. Dynamic Beige*

                  I read somewhere that you’re not supposed to feed babies nuts until they’re a certain age. Nuts naturally have toxins in them and young babies don’t have the immune system to handle them. (Not being a parent myself, I do not know if this is 100% true) But, with the increase in packaged foods, there is so much that happens where nuts or nut products are used — or were made in the plant last week. Those candy bars that say “created in a nut-free facility”, I guess they used to make all kinds of candy bars in the same facilities and there was cross contamination. So I’m not saying that every baby that is exposed to a nut product will develop an allergy, maybe it’s partly a quantity thing or they already had the predisposition to be sensitive and a few products with nuts in them created a larger problem.

                  But yeah, I cannot remember one kid in school that ever had an allergy like that in the 70’s or 80’s.

                4. TL -*

                  @Dynamic Beige – actually, they’re now thinking that lack of exposure to peanuts increases risk of allergies (places like Israel where peanut consumption is high and common havemuch lower peanut allergies than places like the USA.) There’s some evidence that lack of exposure while young can increase chances of having an allergy, and I think the most convincing evidence shows there’s no benefit to delaying exposure.
                  There’s also a genetic component to allergies – they do tend to run in families. And most kids outgrow their allergies; peanuts/nuts tend to have this happen 25-50% of the time but it’s much higher for most other allergies.
                  @Elizabeth: There’s probably a lot more going on than the clean hypothesis, but I think more and more evidence is showing it plays a large part in allergies. Your immune system is predicated on being challenged a lot when developing (eating dirt, getting sick, running into all kinds of nasties).

                5. Cassie*

                  There’s also possibly something about how the peanuts are cooked that make a difference – I read somewhere that peanut allergies are higher in the US where the peanuts are dry-roasted, compared to other places (like in Asia) where the peanuts aren’t dry-roasted.

                6. Dynamic Beige*

                  @TL — that is interesting! But, I can sort of see how that could happen. We have Purell in supermarkets so you can clean your hands before touching a dirty shopping cart (the horror!). Everything is hypoallergenic/antibacterial this that or the other. I guess if you’re kept from as much dirt/contaminants as possible, you never have the chance to acclimatise to them. Funny though with all the day care centres and being exposed to more children at an early age you would think that would take care of it. There wasn’t day care or pre-school when I was a kid but then again there weren’t Clorox wipes, either.

                7. UK HR bod*

                  There’s been some press here recently about how pregnant women should actually be eating peanuts, as it lowers the risk of peanut allergies in later life – advice has been latterly to avoid, which may have actually increased the incidence of allergy.

            7. Florida*

              For some people, it doesn’t. Peanut allergies (like most medical conditions) come in all ranges of severity. Some people could touch peanuts, breath them, and smell them and they are fine until they eat them. Other people can’t even think about peanuts (well, maybe thinking about them is ok).

        2. Katie the Fed*

          What you’re describing would be illegal. If she asserted her right to have her disability accomodated under the ADA, and then was retaliated against with personnel actions and a hostile work environment, that’s a discrimination complaint under the EEO.

          1. AJS*

            Yes, but you cannot legislate away her co-workers’ right to loathe her. Even if all protocols are followed to the letter, it would make for a cold, unpleasant situation.

            When it comes to pets, reason goes out the window.

            1. Labyrinth*

              No, it doesn’t. Being unreasonable is a choice. Think about the all-male environments that hire a woman. If they had been acting sexist before, they’ll now have to stop, and it’s not uncommon that the men act resentful towards the woman for “making” them have to build women’s bathrooms and stop with sexist jokes and pictures. Should women just not work in these environments? Is it good advice to say “well, they will hate you, you’re the killjoy, whatareyagonnado, nothing to do about that, it’s better for you to work somewhere else”? No, we’d encourage that woman to stand up for herself and insist that the managers take this seriously and won’t allow anyone to treat her badly.

          2. AnotherFed*

            Proving an obvious violation is one thing, it’s the more insidious retaliation that would be very hard, and it’s possible that at least some of it would be unconscious. If someone is this allergic to dogs, then they’ll be unlikely to mesh well with the rest of the team, especially after the dogs are banned. The little things like people prioritizing the OP’s requests below requests from others, not doing more than the minimum to assist the OP, going to people other than the OP for help or to partner on good ideas/process improvements, and possibly being seen as a bit of an overreactor by coworkers will certainly put the OP at a disadvantage compared to the other coworkers and mean the OP has to work harder to have the same organizational contribution.

            Note that I’m not saying the OP is overreacting on allergies, just that if the OP’s coworkers have seen her endure the allergies without a life-threatening reaction in her first weeks on the job, they may not understand that medication can become less effective or the allergies can worsen to the point where the reaction becomes life-threatening.

        3. Blossom*

          I don’t mean to be facile, but doesn’t Fighting the Power almost by definition involve the possibility of alienating and angering those in a position to affect your happiness?

      7. Green*

        I think the consideration here is whether the job is worth it to OP even if there is tension and resentment regarding the changes needed to accommodate her. If she has no other job and limited opportunities, then it’s fair to enforce her rights in order to preserve her livelihood. If it’s easy to change jobs and find something similar without dogs, I would just do that as the path of least resistance. (And the allergies do need to be severe in order to be covered by the ADA, which it sounds like they are here. If it was take-a-daily-Claritin-and-move-on or try to fight for dogs to be removed, LW should take the daily Claritin.)

        1. Green*

          (And, yes, ADA prohibits retaliation, but if the “retaliation” is that everybody hates you it can be hard to enforce that aspect of the ADA and really puts you up for some unpleasant times.)

          1. Mike C.*

            I don’t see what is so difficult about saying, “management allowed retaliation through the unpunished actions of my coworkers and here are a ton of documented examples”.

            1. Green*

              Because someone choosing not to sit with you at lunch or giving a project to someone else can be justified without reference to the accommodation request. (“Oh, I didn’t give Jane that project because Charles had already expressed an interest and had more bandwidth!”)

                1. MK*

                  I am a lawyer, and, no, there aren’t always ways to deal with this. You would have to prove that the negative behavior is caused by your coworkers discriminating against you because of your condition; not just claim that it iis so, but prove it, which might or might not be possible. And it’s more difficult when you are new, because you have no frame of reference. The coworkers and the company could claim that it’s just a case of the new person not fitting in/working out in the job.

                2. Green*

                  I’m also a lawyer. Most companies have very strong anti-retaliation policies that make it easier to punish behavior that includes social ostracizing, etc. but without a proactive employer in these situations it can be difficult to prove. People have many reasons for their actions usually, and you’d have to have a pretty lengthy list of “bad things” that happened after you asserted your rights or someone would have to be dumb enough to say things directly to you (which, hey, does happen all the time).

            2. Creag an Tuire*

              “No we didn’t, Cruella unfortunately just didn’t mesh well with the rest of the team.”

              Prove us wrong.

              1. Mike C.*

                “Huh, that’s interesting, because I have a log book showing how all of these policies were only enforced against me and only after we couldn’t reach a federally mandated accommodation.”

                Come on now.

                1. Creag an Tuire*

                  And if the policy is “employee must coordinate well and foster supportive relationships with colleagues”, and OP is the only person who fails to meet that standard? (Because nobody likes her?) C’mon now.

                  I mean, I wish discrimination law was as easy to enforce as you seem to think it is, because if it were we wouldn’t have such wide gender/race gaps in so many lucrative fields (including the one I suspect OP works in). But it isn’t.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I’ve always been told that retaliation is actually one of the easiest things to win a case on, often easier than winning it on the underlying harassment or discrimination complaint that led to the retaliation.

                3. Mike C.*

                  You do understand that a judge will see right through that, right?

                  Furthermore, pay gaps are much harder to manage because you have to deal with systemic issues such as “making it socially acceptable to discuss wages in polite company” or “telling girls that they’re bad at math”.

                4. Green*

                  Allison — that “easier to win” comment about retaliation I could see applying much more easily to sexual harassment cases (particularly those involving a boss) than to people being upset about an ADA accommodation (unless they said things out loud). Ideally, nobody would have to worry about retaliation when enforcing their legal rights that society has decided are A Good Thing, but in practice OP should consider the trade-offs of Job vs. Fighting Everything. If I could easily replace the job, I would just do that. If not, I’d get my accommodation and then deal aggressively with any retaliation. But that doesn’t mean it will be “easy.”

                5. Creag an Tuire*

                  Green – Actually, having done some research, right now the opposite is true as of 2013 (Google “University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center v. Nassar”), as the Supreme Court held retaliation claims under the EEOC to a harsher standard than before.

                  This doesn’t apply to the ADA -yet-, though I’m sure the SCOTUS is going to “fix” that soon enough, bless their hearts.

              2. fposte*

                The thing is, though, all of this is after the fact. Even if the OP would win her court case, that wouldn’t happen for a few years, and she’d be hunting for another job in the meantime. And then she’s the person suing her employer in what sounds like a fairly close-knit field.

                By the time you get to a lawsuit, you’ve already lost your chance at a viable workplace for yourself; it’s not a corrective but a compensation. So if what you’re trying to do is make this job work, a lawsuit isn’t very helpful.

                1. LBK*

                  By the time you get to a lawsuit, you’ve already lost your chance at a viable workplace for yourself; it’s not a corrective but a compensation.

                  Oh, this is fantastic. I’ve never been able to concisely articulate why legal action feels so hopeless to me even in scenarios where you’d clearly win the case.

                2. Creag an Tuire*

                  Yes. Plus, while it might be “easier” to win a retaliation claim, you’d still have to be vigorous about documenting your interactions to the point of near-paranoia, which will only further increase your misery level in the meantime.

            3. Jillociraptor*

              Does it rise to retaliation if your coworkers just don’t really like you, though? It’s one thing if the coworkers started, say, not including the OP in meetings or not giving her work, or meaningfully impacted her ability to get stuff done. But what if they’re just kinda chilly and resentful?

              1. Green*

                Retaliation can include being socially ostracized or made to feel unwelcome, particularly under most [large company] corporate policies.

                1. AJS*

                  Yes, but you can’t force people to be friendly. You can require that ADA-required corporate policies be followed to the letter, but you can’t make the guy in the next cubicle suddenly let go of his resentment.

              2. mdv*

                Maybe the difference is whether or not they started out chilly and resentful, or turned that way after the OP is accommodated with a “no dogs ever” policy…

            4. bridget*

              But what if they just plain don’t like the OP but take no actual negative action against her, and are just coolly professional with zero social interaction? Working in an office where nobody wants to be friends with you isn’t retaliation in the legal sense, but it can make working at a job really unpleasant anyway.

              1. Green*

                It actually can be retaliation in the legal sense if it involves overt exclusion. But, yes, harder than Mike C. thinks to prove. :)

      8. Case of the Mondays*

        I’m also not certain OP’s allergies rise to the level of being covered by the ADA. The definitions have changed over the years to be more generous, for sure. The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. What life activity is impacted here? Breathing? Seeing? Smelling? Sneezing and watery eyes (what she experiences with medication) might not rise to the level of substantially limiting her breathing and/or seeing. I have major environmental allergies so I understand how miserable one can be with them. The ADA is a finicky statute though and in the past at least, it was a pretty high bar to meet. Not all diseases are disabilities and not all disabilities fit in the ADA definition which is typically narrower than other venues.

        If I was the OP, I would want a lawyers opinion that my allergies rose to ADA levels before I tried to request drastic accommodations like no dogs at all. Anaphalactic allergies would certainly be ADA level but remember, that is recent too. In the past, intermittent disabilities didn’t count. As you saw in the Amazon article linked, only the most severe disabilities were accommodated there.

        1. Green*

          Severe allergies that cannot be addressed with medication would be covered by the ADA.

          There are two considerations: (1) is your condition covered? (2) is there undue hardship for employer to accommodate? The legal environment is pretty favorable to employees on both right now, as the lawyers consulted by AAM suggest.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The two lawyers I consulted felt confident she’d be covered, with the major life activity being respiration. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt to talk with a lawyer of her own before going that route.

          Bryan also pointed out that the standard for the ADA isn’t what you experience with medication. He said to me:

          “The ADA says that an episodic impairment is a “disability” as long as it would substantially limit a major life activity when active. It also says that the determination of whether an impairment substantial limits a major life activity shall be made without regard to “the ameliorative effects of mitigation measures.” That is legalese that means the determination is made based on the individual’s condition off medication rather than on medication. In this case, the individual’s condition off medication limits breathing and involves a dangerous situation.”

          1. Kyrielle*

            Also, the doctor has said continued exposure could make it worse. If “make it worse” potentially includes escalating it to the point where the medication no longer guarantees no life-threatening episodes…not that it sounds like that matters for ADA interpretation, but that’s what would worry me if I were the OP.

          2. GOG11*

            “That is legalese that means the determination is made based on the individual’s condition off medication rather than on medication. In this case, the individual’s condition off medication limits breathing and involves a dangerous situation.”

            Oops, I didn’t read the comments before posting. This is what I was trying to say.

        3. GOG11*

          She stated that her throat could close if she weren’t on medication, which definitely impacts a major life function (breathing). The accommodations aren’t just for when the condition is well-controlled (or, in this case, poorly controlled). As I understand it, the employee can seek and accommodations can be in place that account for the effects/symptoms/limitations posed by the disease when it is in its active state. So, in this case, her condition would qualify as a disability that is covered by the ADA, but IANAL.

      9. Creag an Tuire*

        I feel for the OP, because reading the Amazon article convinces me that the company will be smart enough to come up with an “accommodation” that will cut her off from the office and make her ineffective enough to safely fire.

        And given how huffy people get when schools accommodate -life-threatening- peanut allergies: “Yes, your child might go into shock and die, but -Muffy wants her sammiches-“, I’m not holding out much hope for OP’s future if she becomes That Buzzkill Who Took Our Dogs Away.

        This company sucks for not addressing this in the interview.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          The thing about that Amazon article that stood out for me was that the dogs aren’t really a perk — they function more like therapy dogs. They are a condition of keeping employees happy. If most people only work there the minimum amount for their stock to vest or 5 years is the most they can stand, if the longer you work there the more you’re expected to give up your weekends… that is not a healthy workplace environment to begin with. I’m sure having your dog there is a way to relieve stress/calm the employee down, look like a “cool with-it” business and keep people from focusing too much on the lack of the work/life balance. “I’ve got a great job! I can play Foosball at lunch! I can take naps in the Nap Pod! There’s Thai food in the company cafeteria! I can bring in my dog and wear jeans! I barely sleep in my own bed, there’s only ketchup and cocktail onions in my fridge and I haven’t seen a family member in X months (which in some cases may be a perk) but my job is great!” I’m sure it’s much cheaper for someone to bring their dog in to help keep them calm than to have to take a couple hours every week to visit their therapist.

          I can’t see how keeping a dog in a building all day, perhaps crated for a fair portion of that is better for them than being at doggie day care where they can do what they want or having a dog walker come by in the middle of the day.

          Also, why is it that if you don’t like dogs you’re a MONSTER! But hating or disliking cats is somehow OK? I mean OK in the sense that it’s somehow seen as more “normal” (especially for men) to just not like cats.

          1. Creag an Tuire*

            To your last paragraph — it’s because even cat people acknowledge that cats are assholes. ;)

      10. LBK*

        For me it would depend on how many people are using the perk. If we’re talking maybe 2-3 people that are bringing in dogs I wouldn’t feel so bad about asking for the policy to be changed. If this is a major thing that half the office is utilizing on a daily basis then I don’t think it’s worth it to pursue the lawsuit. I’d find a new job – even if you managed to get the perk removed by invoking your rights under the ADA, I’d imagine your reputation would be so tarnished that it would be hard to enjoy your job anyway. Which sucks and runs completely counter to the purpose of those laws, but realistically winning a lawsuit doesn’t mean people have to like you afterwards.

        1. The Allergic OP*

          It depends on the day, some people bring their dog once a month, others every day. On a given day there are about 18-30 dogs here.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            You know, I wonder if that is a health code violation. I mean on those hoarder shows, people sometimes have been hoarding animals and there’s a limit to how many you’re allowed to own depending on your county/size of property. I don’t know 100% but I would bet there are limits on how many animals are allowed at a shelter or pet store (I also wonder that if a group of people who needed service dogs wanted to meet at a restaurant, is that OK to have say a dozen or more service dogs in an area like that?). Maybe because it’s a private office building, the laws are different, it might be worth looking up just to see. If a private building that holds 1000 people routinely has 200 dogs in it in a day, there might be some violation there in terms of licencing that would be required in order to house that number of dogs — the company is kind of functioning like an ad hoc doggie day care centre. If the dogs are in the same building as the food services but a different floor, there might be some sort of code that is on the books in terms of ventilation or air purification that the builders didn’t follow.

            Alternately, I would wonder what kind of insurance they have. If someone’s doggy darling bites another employee, or gets into their office and wrecks stuff, or an important client/visitor who turns out to be allergic to dogs comes for a tour and has an attack that winds them up in hospital… oh the lawsuit would be one that would make all the news cycles and sources.

            1. Marian the Librarian*

              This is definitely true in some cities. In my coworker’s town, if you have more than two animals that place then qualifies as a “kennel” and you need a specific waiver to be able to “run your kennel.” Apparently they try to crack down on it really hard, though! But I’m in the Midwest and towns here are not as dog-friendly as places in California and the PNW.

            2. Geof*

              Speaking here as the human half of a service dog team, yes we can gather a dozen or more teams in a restaurant. Service dogs are considered a medical device, not a dog, and are allowed [almost] anywhere their human partner is allowed to visit. Also a visiting Service dog does not violate a health code simply by being in a restaurant.

      11. Manders*

        I think this partially depends on how severe OP’s allergies are. I’m not even sure if getting rid of the dogs would immediately end OP’s allergy attacks–they might also have to deep clean the office to make it allergen-free, and if the other employees have dogs they’ll still be carrying around a lot of hair and dander on their clothes. I would be very, very reluctant as a new employee to demand that the office end a popular perk, especially if I weren’t 100% certain that it would fix the problem.

        I’m also wondering about the company’s reluctance to let OP telecommute. Is there another role they could move her into that would let her work from home? If every single company in her field has dogs in the office, and OP absolutely can’t be around dogs, I’m not sure staying in the same role but moving to another company would be a viable solution either.

        It’s a tough situation! I feel for the OP, but I also understand why the company would be very reluctant to ban dogs from the office.

        1. CAF*

          This. Dander sticks around for months and is very easily transferable on clothes. Even immediate banishment of dogs from the office wouldn’t bring OP complete relief right away, which makes me lean towards advising them to keep looking for a dog-free job.

          1. Solid B student*

            But would it not still be a problem if many of her co-workers own dogs and dander gets transferred to their clothes and travels to work with them?

            1. Manders*

              Yeah, that’s something I was wondering about as a hypothetical. At what point do reasonable accommodations end? Can an employer control what employees touch outside of work, or how they wash their clothes, or what pets they own?

              I did recently read an article about someone who is deathly allergic to even tiny amounts of a chemical that’s in almost every perfume and cleaning product, so I’m thinking of a worst-case scenario instead of what’s realistic for the OP. It sounds like OP has had other office jobs in the past, so if their allergies are that severe they would have mentioned it.

              1. UKAnon*

                I would guess that in the OP’s case they seem to be on pretty strong medication, so the (much lesser) allergens brought in are something they’ve found a way to cope with. It’s vastly different to having dogs (potentially lots of dogs, though the OP doesn’t clarify) around you all day, getting into your clothes (so it continues when you go home) etc.

              2. CreationEdge*

                Perhaps the Cracked article about the lady allergic to lavender, “I Am Deathly Allergic To The World’s Most Popular Smell”?

                If so, that was pretty awful. She’d have people (students) intentionally spray her, and then she’d have to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.

                It’s an awful situation, and the way people treat others with those severe allergies is awful.

                Nobody ever goes, “Oh, I don’t believe you’re epileptic. Here, look at my strobe light.”

                1. Manders*

                  Yes, that’s the one I read! She couldn’t have any kind of office, retail, or service job because she was allergic to such tiny quantities of lavender that there was basically no way to protect herself from someone who might have used lavender skin cream or perfume at home. Some of her jobs sounded like they might have been violating the ADA rules, although honestly, I’m not sure how they could have accommodated her safely. That was an extreme case, though–it doesn’t sound like OP is at that point.

              3. Biff*

                This — even if OP has had successful office jobs in the past, I’d be concerned that:

                1. Even with a deep clean of the office.
                2. And sequesteration of the OP.
                3. AND air filters.

                That the sheer number of dog owners at this office would be tromping in with so many allergans that these efforts would not resolve an allergy that is apparently as severe as hers is.

            2. ExceptionToTheRule*

              It tends to be a much more intense reaction when you’re around the actual source of your allergen – ie the dog itself and the poorly vacuumed carpet that the dog lays on and rolls around on. Contact with people comes and goes. Dog dander in the carpet is forever.

          2. CAF*

            It sure could be a problem, depending on the severity of the allergies. Or it could stop being a problem once the dander in the office clears out, because there is less of it. My allergist told me pet dander is really everywhere, though, because it travels on clothes. That’s why OP may be better-off with a dog free workplace. People will still have dogs, but probably a lower percentage of them.

      12. Mike C.*

        This is why I’m convinced that if they can’t find another solution that the dogs will have to go and the coworkers will have to suck it up.

        1. Mike C.*

          And I just want to point out something – it’s entirely possible that the coworkers will understand that this is a serious issue, take it seriously and not retaliate against the OP. Respiration is a rather understandable concern.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I would hope so, but as someone who has a lot of allergies, I’ve had a number of friends, family members, and coworkers be pretty annoyed by having to accommodate it.

            1. Anon Accountant*

              Same here. I have allergies to cats and dogs that some family members get upset when I won’t go to their homes because of their animals. My allergies can trigger an asthma like attack with airways swelling closed from breathing in animal dander.

              1. Mike C.*

                I just have to ask, how do they react when you say something like, “If I go to your house I might die”?

                Maybe I’m just blind to the crap folks like you have to go through, but that seriously breaks all standard protocol as far as being a good host is concerned to complain about your allergies.

                1. Rana*

                  From what I’ve seen, the reaction not infrequently is to assume that the allergic person is either lying or exaggerating. Some people will even do things like feed people food they’re allergic to to “prove” that it’s “all in their head.”

                2. Mike C.*

                  Holy shit. So they get a response ranging from “prove that they know more than trained medical experts” to 1st degree murder charges. Why are people so damn petty?

                3. blackcat*

                  My experience is that people (even well meaning people) just don’t believe how bad it can be. “Might die” is somehow too abstract.

                  My husband was raised by a woman who doesn’t believe in allergies. He, being a reasonable person, believed me when I said I had serious allergies. The first time he witnessed a major reaction (which was far from my worst ever!), he was like “THAT WAS SO AWFUL! I COULDN’T IMAGINE! YOU ALMOST DIED!” (No, I hadn’t almost died. I had used my epi pen and gone to the hospital. Modern medicine is pretty amazing, and we have multiple excellent ways to treat anaphylaxis.) He even said that my warnings of “An allergic reaction can kill me” were hard to believe until he saw what happens when I have a bad reaction. He is now far, far more careful about my allergens and is way better about boundaries with his mom (no, she cannot stay at our house, because she will use lotion that will cause a severe allergic reaction).

                4. fposte*

                  I think also that this response gets diluted by all the people who are “allergic” to something they don’t like, or that they’re sensitive to, or that makes them feel not well. There’s a lot of incorrect self-diagnosis and straight out BS under the allergy umbrella that makes it really hard for people at genuine risk of anaphylaxis.

                5. Kara*

                  Another problem that contributes is that a lot of people will say they have an allergy to something they just don’t like or don’t want to eat. You’d be amazed at the number of dieting/fitness boards where I’ve seen people flat out admit that they lie about allergies and/or advise others to do the same. (Eg: Oh your coworker won’t stop pushing her homemade casserole at you? Tell her you’re allergic to zucchini and will die. That’ll make her stop!)

                  Unfortunately that kind of thing makes some people skeptical about claims of allergies to the point that people who really DO have series allergies get discounted. Which is why I hate it when I see people lying about having an allergy just to get out of eating something or doing something they don’t like.

                6. Aunt Vixen*

                  “allergic” to something … they’re sensitive to, or that makes them feel not well. … really hard for people at genuine risk of anaphylaxis.

                  But anaphylaxis is not the only allergic reaction. You know that, right? I say this as someone with pretty much all the environmental allergies and many of the animal allergies–and two food allergies that I called intolerances until a doctor told me they sounded like straight-up allergies to him. The body has lots of different ways it can reject things.

                  There are *also* people, of course, who claim to be allergic to things they simply do not prefer. That does make it hard for the rest of us to be taken seriously. But it didn’t sound to me like that was what you were talking about.

                7. fposte*

                  @Aunt Vixen–yes, of course, I was using anaphylaxis as shorthand for “significant allergic response.”

                  And there are significant responses that aren’t allergic that may also fall under the ADA and are certainly worth attempts to accommodate–celiac disease is a good example. But I have many friends and acquaintances with allergies (and I’m one of them) and others with “allergies.” Those of us in the first category have a huge variety of responses, many of them quite tolerable, which muddies the water; those in the second category are utterly unpredictable, because they’re not talking about allergies so could be talking about any number of distastes, sensitivities, and reactions. I think the word is a pain in the ass, frankly, because it conveys virtually no useful information on its own anymore.

                8. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  I know people who would get upset by such things. I personally wouldn’t. I have a friend who came to my apartment, started sniffling and getting runny-eyed, and he wouldn’t accept my offer to go somewhere else! He’s a wonderful friend, just a little TOO generous. I told him flat-out that he was no longer allowed in my home because he’s allergic to my dog.

            2. Bangs not Fringe*

              Yes. Despite explanation, even people who care about you sometimes don’t grasp the seriousness of the situation… in this case, the effect of the allergens.

          2. UKAnon*

            That’s what I’d hope too, but the OP says they didn’t react well to OP being allowed to work from home one day a week so it sounds like a bit of a vain hope…

          3. Linked Paperclips*

            One of my coworkers brings her beautiful outdoor plants into the office every winter. She’s probably got 30 of them, ranging from little stuff (orchids) to big stuff (like citrus trees!). She proactively offered to remove them from the office if I had any adverse reaction to them. Luckily, I don’t have any problems, but Mike C. is right that some coworkers may be very sympathetic and cooperative. I also had another coworker who threw a tantrum when I asked him to not smoke right outside the door, but he’s unreasonable in other respects, as well. It just depends.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I would have backed you up on the smoking one, because when I smoked (obviously not allergic), I realized that it stunk. I didn’t even smoke in my own house or car. The odor is a good enough reason to say something in the case of smoking.

          4. Applesauced*

            You can understand the need for the change and also be annoyed at the sudden end to a perk – not to mention the added cost of a walker or pet-sitter that you may not have budgeted for since you took a lower salary because you could bring your dog to work.

        2. KT*

          As someone with Celiacs…people don’t get it.

          Eating gluten makes me severely ill, yet people think it’s “all in my head”, “not that bad”, or “one bite won’t kill you”.

          My mother in law went to elaborate detail explaining how she had looked up a gluten free recipe and had spent all day making a gluten free cake for me. I ate a few bites and could immediately tell it had gluten, so I stopped eating it. She made a big fuss that because I had taken bites and hadn’t keeled over dead immediately, it wasn’t a real illness.

          Later that night, I woke up violently ill with a pain you couldn’t imagine and I couldn’t stop throwing up. I ended up in the hospital for 3 days.

          1. rory*

            oh god, the poisoners. The poisoners. They think it’s this harmless thing that won’t hurt! Well, sure, it doesn’t hurt THEM. When I’m spending the next two days not able to move, it sure is hurting ME.

            It needs to be a crime. (I have no idea that it’s not already, but can I get my brother arrested then?)

          2. Marcela*

            Probably I would have ask my husband to tell her he was going to be a witness in the following criminal investigation, given she was actively trying to kill you, since in her mind a) it was a real illness, therefore you died from it, or b) it wasn’t a real illness, therefore you lived. Honestly, it’s a problem of logic. And decency. But the logic bothers me more, perhaps because it’s less abundant in my family.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            I want to kick people who do that. Argggh. I’d rather not make you a cake if I couldn’t be sure it wouldn’t make you sick. I’d rather you were okay than had some cake I just HAD to make. When people do this shiz, it makes it all about them.

      13. My 2 cents*

        Here are my thoughts:
        1) How in the world did this not come up in the interview?!?! Did she never go to the office and notice all the dogs? This was a huge oversight somewhere
        2) Even if the office removes all of the dogs, what if someone has a service dog now or down the road, whose medical need takes priority?
        3) If I am the employer and I have to do away with this huge perk, which causes intense morale issues and my staff no longer produces at the same level or I lose key people because they need to work where they have their dog, could that not be considered an undue hardship?

        1. Suz*

          Or what if one or more of the dogs that are already there are service dogs? Would that employees disability trump the OP’s since they were there first? Or does it matter whose disability was worse? Or which employee is more valuable to the company?

        2. Mike C.*

          RE: 3 No way. There are too many workplaces that don’t already allow dogs, and somehow those places are doing just fine.

        3. KT*

          I do wonder about this…I have a service animal who comes to work with me. There is a coworker with severe allergies, but we are now stationed on different floors and even use different entrances/bathrooms to make sure my helper doesn’t irritate her allergies. My company has the space/facilities to do that–but if they didn’t and we had to share a floor, whose needs would trump whose?

      14. Anonicorn*

        I think rather than attempting to isolate allergy sufferers like the OP, perhaps the workplace could keep the dogs in a specific part of the office. People still bring their dogs, they just aren’t everywhere.

        1. Anonicorn*

          Oh, also! Possibly someone has said this already, but if the dog-at-work perk has to be taken away, I wonder if the company could offer discounts at a pet day care.

      15. Ad Astra*

        I think she’s better off finding a new job, but that is obviously easier said than done. If it were me, I might use ADA protection to get the dogs out of the building for the time being, and then start sending out resumes.

      16. Lily in NYC*

        I think the employer should find a way to get OP an office with a door she can shut – even if they have to build one in an open area. I love the idea of a dog-friendly office, but allergies this bad trumps people’s desire to have dogs at work. And if she does feel like she has to leave, then I think she should be given a generous severance package even if she resigns because this sucks.

        1. hjc24*

          Good point on building an enclosed workspace for the OP – this isn’t as daunting and expensive as it might seem. It doesn’t even need to be permanent. I work in a library and we put up some plexiglas “flexwalls” to create temporary classroom space during a renovation, and it was quick and fairly inexpensive. The walls weren’t soundproof, which was an issue in our situation, but since that isn’t the issue needing to be addressed here, it seems like it might be a good solution. When the employee leaves (hopefully far in the future, for reasons unrelated to the allergy), the company can remove the flexwalls if they want to return to the original office configuration.

      17. The Other Dawn*

        I think she needs to ask herself if she’s willing to be *that person* in the office. I’m not saying she shouldn’t push to ban the dogs if that’s what she wants to do, but if she exercises her rights and has the dogs removed, will she ever really be happy there? I don’t think employees will blame the company; they will blame the person who caused the employer to take away their perk. She will always be known as the “pain in the ass who took away our awesome perk.”

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I’m that person. It wasn’t a real perk – there just wasn’t a policy so… I don’t care, but I’ve been here longer than the dogs – which is not the OP’s position.

      18. Episkey*

        I have no easy answer, unfortunately. I completely agree with you that it is an UGH situation and the employer should have DEFINITELY brought up this fact in the interview process. I’m just saying this is how I would feel as a longer-term employee in that company. I’m not saying it is fair, but I would be upset.

      19. Nobody Here By That Name*

        My thoughts:

        1. I’d try to explore that working from home option more. Why is it okay one day a week but not others? I get that some jobs are like that but given the extreme nature of the problem perhaps this is something where the line needs to move. Perhaps the OP could sit down with her boss and find out the reasons why they feel she needs to be in the office those 4 days and figure out a way to address that. This could involve either increased measures to keep in touch while she’s at home or perhaps even switching some job duties with another employee.

        2. On the flip side, what about the dog-having employees? Could they be allowed to telecommute more? That allows them to keep working with their dogs while decreasing the allergen issue at the office.

        3. If the company is in an office complex, is there a small conference room or empty office which could be rented for her to use to be on site but not immediately breathing in the allergen atmosphere?

      20. AthenaC*

        Is it reasonable in this circumstance to resign and ask for severance? It doesn’t seem right to be the one that wants to change an environment that’s working for everyone else (although it is her right), but at the same time this environment is definitely not working for the OP, and I cannot imagine it would be good for her to continue to expose herself to allergens while she looks for another job. Severance would allow her to remove herself immediately while she continues to job-hunt.

        The fact that the employer is trying to be accomodating suggests that they might possibly be open to the idea.

      21. BRR*

        I would love to see a poll of readers on this (can you do that on here?). This is a really tough question.

      22. AnonAnalyst*

        If it’s me, I would probably be more comfortable just leaving that job and seeking a job elsewhere. I know the OP said that dog-friendly offices are common in her industry, but I wonder if there’s some implementation of that would work better for her. Perhaps in a larger office or a space with different configuration there could be a separate floor or more cordoned off area for dogs where she’d have less exposure that maybe wouldn’t trigger the allergic reaction, or make it less severe?

        For me, I don’t think I would be up for that fight and I’m lucky enough to have other options so I would probably just go that way. I don’t know that it’s the best way to proceed but if I’m honest it’s probably what I would do.

        Ultimately, though, I think it’s fair for the OP to proceed with requesting accommodation under ADA if she wants to stay in this job. I would hope that the coworkers would be understanding given that something they think is a cool perk, but is unrelated to the actual work they’re doing, is causing the OP physical distress when she’s required to be onsite for the actual work she’s doing.

        It’s a tough one, and I really feel for the OP.

      23. Episkey*

        Also, I’m curious….what would happen if the employer said something in the interview process such as, “We want to be upfront with you, this is a dog-friendly office and we have several employees who bring their dogs to work with them. Would this be a problem for you?”

        The candidate says no, gets the job, and then invokes ADA by saying she is allergic to dogs and needs the dogs to stop coming to the office. Can the employer let them go, not for being allergic, but for lying during the interview process?

          1. AJS*

            Not to be snarky, but I’m curious: why not? Lying about your credentials can get you fired. Lying about whether you have reliable transportation can get you fired. It seems to me that deliberately and perhaps maliciously lying about whether you can accept a company policy should be grounds for termination as well.

            1. VintageLydia USA*

              Because the lie would be to prevent illegal discrimination against them, I’d bet.

            2. Katie the Fed*

              You can’t sign away some legal protections. Like a non-exempt worker can’t agreed to work unpaid overtime – she’s legally entitled to it and her employer can be held liable for not providing it. A worker can’t give away her rights to ADA or equal employment protections.

      24. CAinUK*

        If I were in the situation, I would do as you first suggest (see if there is reasonable accommodation we hadn’t thought of) and in the likelihood that didn’t work, I would have a conversation with HR and the hiring manager outlining that I could not work in the environment and that while ADA backs me (and I’d point that out explicitly) it would be best if all of us acknowledged I would need to find a new job and they should support me through that process.

        This means the OP could take interviews, rely on strong recommendation and the employer supporting her by explaining to other folks why she was leaving, and so on.

        Normally I am not a fan of the “I am leaving but not sure when” approach, but it is a perfect compromise here since the employer wants to avoid ADA lawsuits and the employee needs to find a new job without jeopardizing her income in the interim.

        1. UKAnon*

          But the OP doesn’t need a new job. They may decide they want one, but they don’t need one. Their coworkers need to grow up.

      25. INTP*

        On a selfish level, as a person with allergies, I think that it would be great if the OP raised this as an ADA issue. Maybe more horror stories about companies that had to revoke the perk when it became an issue would prompt companies to think twice before welcoming dogs, or at least make sure they had viable alternatives for allergic employees and disclosed the policy up front. (I know the latter doesn’t make a difference legally, but it would allow many people to just not take the job rather than having to get into a no-win situation like the OP is in.)

        Ethically, I think that the OP is in a situation where it is acceptable to do whatever she needs to do to protect herself. She’s been put in this situation through no fault of her own, and she has her health and finances to protect. If she needs the paycheck, it would be fine for her to put up a legal fight. She doesn’t owe it to her fellow employees to not exercise her civil rights because the company failed to think through whether they could employ a policy legally. But if she has other options, or plenty of savings and prospects and would rather preserve good relations with her former coworkers than gear up for battle, I think it would be fine for her to leave the job ASAP too. (I don’t think a two week notice would even be ethically required in this circumstance unless they’re going to remove the dogs for two weeks.)

      26. Mary*

        If I was in her position, and I am in a similar health position at work right now although not allergies, I would ask her boss for help finding a new job somewhere else – my boss is doing that and it makes the transition a lot easier

      27. Alston*

        Ugh I feel terrible saying this but I think she should just bail, and probably ask the company to pay some severance while she finds a new job. She should be able to get to get the ADA accomodations, but even if she does it’s going to have ramifications with her coworkers.

        If this was my office I would feel really bad for you, and would do everything I could to try and keep the allergens from you, but if we all lost the dog perk? I’d be nice to you still, but I’d be livid. I’d try to keep it to myself, but I imagine your coworkers would be resentful of you for a very long time/forever. So you may not be sneezing, but you might not still have a great work environment.

        This is not a small perk. Doggy day care near me cost $30 a day. That’s $600 a month they now have to pay. It’s a lot of money, it makes their schedule more complicated, and this perk may well have been a HUGE reason they took the job.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          But $30/day is frankly much cheaper than childcare and isn’t need for the vast majority of dogs. I mean, it sucks, but it’s not a perk you’re entitled do, nor is it a particularly common perk the way healthcare or PTO is (so generally isn’t one you should expect if you move on to another job elsewhere which most people will eventually do.) You could negotiate another perk to replace this one (maybe an extended lunch break that would allow you to go home and walk your pooch negating the need for doggie daycare) but that’s not a guarantee either. Your privilege to keep your dog with you doesn’t trump this person’s legal right to a workplace that won’t kill them and I’m sorry you lack the maturity to recognize that. This is not a bit of sneezing. They literally cannot work without being drugged up and their doctor is telling them it’s only getting worse.

          1. Alston*

            And I understand that, and would sympathize and probably agree it needed to happen, BUT I would still be upset. It’s a major financial perk that is being away. Imagine if your job had on site child care, for free, and suddenly took it away. You’d be steamed too I imagine?

          2. Alston*

            Also the fact that child care is more expensive doesn’t matter because we’re not talking about child care. If I took the job and considered this a major perk (or maybe this was even offsetting a terrible salary) this would be a big financial blow. And just because $30 a day isn’t a big deal for you doesn’t mean it’s not for other people. I never said my ability to keep my dog topped their ability to breath, i said I would sympathize but still be upset at them.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I think the company should see if they can negotiate a discount with a doggy daycare. If they have quite a few people bringing pets in, a decent place might be willing to do that to get the extra business, if they can accommodate it.

              1. Alston*

                That’s a fair point. It’d probably have to be near the office though, employees probably don’t always live near each other.

            2. VintageLydia USA*

              But it wouldn’t be a financial blow for everyone. The vast majority of dogs don’t need to be in any sort of doggie daycare. If your dog is so active/destructive you can’t keep them home alone, chances are they’re probably too active for the office, anyway. The only reason I brought up childcare is keeping kids home alone all day is absolutely not an option and the people of this site (rightfully, I may add!) just last week made it crystal clear that kids don’t belong in an office outside of some very specific and rare circumstances. I don’t see why dogs are different in that regard.

              And on-site free childcare isn’t the same as bringing a dog in the office. The childcare would presumably not be in the same space as workers and would be easy to avoid for those who do not want or need to be around the kids. (It’s also unheard of. You may find on-site childcare at reduced rates, but very rarely if ever free. I think don’t even the employees at my kid’s childcare get it for free. They get a discount.)

              1. Alston*

                Dogs don’t have to be destructive to need to be in day care. Might be a dog needs a medication, or needs to pee sometime within the 9 hours I’ll be at work. And if this is a techy start up like mine? Often we’re asked to put in a LOT of extra hours in a pinch, which would either cost an arm and a leg at the doggy day care, or I might not be able to do if the place closes at 7. Even hiring a dog walker isn’t cheap, 15 a day instead of 30.

                1. VintageLydia USA*

                  But what you’re describing is no harder on parents of kids, and in fact easier (because the care itself is cheaper.) Like, I get it would be a bit of a burden at first, but allowing dogs in the workplace is such a rare perk to begin with I cannot imagine it’s something you’d structure your entire life around it. I mean, my SIL works at a vet clinic and she can bring her dogs in, but unless they’re being actively treated, if they need the kennel for a patient, she needs to take her dogs home.

                  And I especially don’t get being angry at the person who is deathly allergic to dogs, either. Be mad at management for not considering this when they decided to let non-service dogs in the workplace.

          3. Falling leaves*

            I think calling Alston immature is unwarranted, especially because their post never said the perk should trump the coworker’s health. They just said they would be upset to lose it. And given it is a relatively rare perk, it’s probably valued even more by the people working there because they know they might not get it somewhere else. Some of them may have specifically chosen this job because it was the best option for taking care of their dog. Of course they should explore other options to accommodate their coworker, but is don’t think it’s immature to experience some frustration with having to find doggy daycare, a dog walker, time to run home, etc. when you chose a job to avoid those things. No perk is ever guaranteed forever, but it’s pretty human to be upset when you lose something beneficial to you, even if you know it’s helping someone else. Taking that frustration out on the coworker would be unfair and immature, but just the internal emotion shouldn’t be judged so harshly.

            1. VintageLydia USA*

              They said: “If this was my office I would feel really bad for you, and would do everything I could to try and keep the allergens from you, but if we all lost the dog perk? I’d be nice to you still, but I’d be livid. I’d try to keep it to myself, but I imagine your coworkers would be resentful of you for a very long time/forever.” Emphasis mine.

              I think it’s immature for people to be livid at the person with the potentially life threatening allergy, yes. I stand by that statement.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          The employer doesn’t have to say “everyone has to abandon their beloved dogs at home all day because of Sneezy McSneezypants who sits in Cubicle 23A”

          They could just say “due to insurer concerns, we’re changing our policies on dogs in the workplace.”

          Annnnnnnnd done.

          Perks, terms of employment, conditions change ALL THE TIME.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Insurance is a VERY GOOD POINT. I’m surprised nobody brought it up sooner (I haven’t read all the way down yet). One dog bite can drive your homeowner’s insurance through the roof–has the company thought about this possibility? Because they should. Any dog can bite under the right set of circumstances, and people are not always good at reading dog body language (i.e. when you should not be trying to touch them).

      28. Biff*

        Allison — the problem I run into is that we spend a LOT of time on this blog discussing how to value perks, and how much they play into the decision to sometimes take an otherwise poorly compensated position.

        I’m in the Bay Area and I have SEVERAL coworkers that have a daily 3 hour commute (round trip) I know of at least one that has a two hour trip (or longer.) If these folks couldn’t afford doggie daycare or a dog walker (which can run 500-1k for the month here) then finding an office like this might mean the difference between them having a dog or not having a dog, because otherwise they’d just be gone TOO long. Dogs can hold it for 11 hours, but it’s NOT healthy for them to do so. And in lots of places, it’s not safe to have a doggie door.

        It’s doubtless the case that at least a few of the coworkers turned down a better job or a closer job or a whatever job in favor of this perk. To take it away would put those folks in a bind, especially if it wasn’t possible for them to negotiate a different perk.

        What I’m hearing is that basically, I shouldn’t make any decision about workplaces based on a perk, because it can dry up at any moment, leaving me twisting in the wind.

        People really need to have some reasonable expectation that if a perk must be taken away, something else will be added in so that those who took the low pay or the bad commute don’t feel screwed over. What they REALLY need though is some reasonable expectation that their workplace will honor the deal.

        As for someone with as severe an allergy as OP has, I’d be concerned that no accomodation would be reasonable because pet hair, dander, and slobber comes in on coworkers and will get over to her desk. If her doc is really worried that any exposure will make her more reactive, she needs to consider disability. It’s there for a reason.

        1. arewehumanorarewedancer*

          What I’m hearing is that basically, I shouldn’t make any decision about workplaces based on a perk, because it can dry up at any moment, leaving me twisting in the wind.

          Yes. *All* perks can dry up at any moment. “Sorry, we have to cancel telework, people are slacking off.” “Sorry, no more casual friday, we’re going to have clients walking around.” “Sorry, we have to get rid of the free coffee, we couldn’t find a place in the budget for it anymore.” “Sorry, no bonuses this year, the CEO wanted a new yacht.”

          1. Biff*

            Right, but so often Allison advocates for readers to negotiate for perks in lieu of desired salary or other perks that aren’t available.

          2. UK HR bod*

            Yes , that’s right – the perks can dry up. So can the jobs – though, you make a choice based on what’s there at the time, and if it changes, you deal with it. You might buy a dog based on the fact that you can pop home at lunch time, but what if your work moves location and you can’t get home so easily? You make a choice based on whether you value your dog or job more. The OP can make that choice too, but there is very simple fact that buying a dog is an active choice in the first place, an allergy isn’t. It’s perhaps easier for me to say as in the UK, taking away benefits that are established either by contract or custom and practice requires formal consultation, but it doesn’t change the fact that things change.

      29. Not So NewReader*

        One question I have is IF all dogs are banned from the property, how long will it be until OP is comfortable? One person upthread mentioned something about 2 years to totally rid the building of the offending hair/dander/etc. I think that OP needs to think about what the end result looks like and is it doable for her.

        If you take on this battle, OP and win, will you actually want what you have won? This means the residual dander, the (potentially) ticked-off coworkers, etc.

        I had a good case for discrimination based on my gender. In a calmer moment, I said, if I win, do I want this job? The answer was NO. I did not pursue the case, I felt I was better off just living my life. Years later there was a class action on this very problem and the plaintiffs won. I ended up in a better place.

    4. AAA*

      Yep, I’d be pretty upset with the employer for providing a perk and having to rescind it because they didn’t think through the allergies issue.

      Also, while it isn’t an additional burden on the employer to just ban the dogs from the office, it may be on the employees, who might now have to pay for doggie day care or a dog walker. I’d definitely consider taking a job with longer hours and/or lower pay if I could keep my dog with me at work.

      For the OP, I’d recommend what others have said–you should have your own office with the dogs as far from it as possible, and air filters for both your personal space, plus throughout the office. I’m sorry you are dealing with this, it sounds like a nightmare!

      Just curious, did the OP not interview in the office? Since their allergies are so severe, I’d be surprised if the interview didn’t trigger them.

      1. IvyGirl*

        Yeah, I find that really strange. How did this not come up via the interview process, which presumably would have happened in the office(s)?

        1. Green*

          Even if it did, people with an ADA disability aren’t required to decline job offers or self-select out of them when their medical condition could be accommodated without undue hardship.

          1. IvyGirl*

            That’s understood; I didn’t mean that the employee should have brought it up – that the employer should have.

            Also really curious as to how the presence of dogs wasn’t noticed in the interviewing process.

            1. Alston*

              Yeah, doggy day care is expensive, $30 bucks a day at the one near me. If I have to pay $600 a month when I didn’t before I’d be pretty steamed at the LW, even though it’s not your fault you have allergies, my brain would say it’s your fault I have to pay that much more a month.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  Yeah I’m struggling with this too. It’s not like the only options are doggie day care or taking the dog to work. Doggie day care is a fairly new creation in the millennia of history of humans & dogs.

                2. Biff*

                  Typically, it’s because dogs need to go outside more often than twice a day or else risk bladder health issues. It’s not always possible to have a dog walker or a doggie door.

                3. VintageLydia USA*

                  If you need to work a full time job and you have a dog that needs more than normal amount of care, then maybe that dog isn’t right for you? Or you need to find a job with fewer hours or is closer to home, even if it might require a pay cut. We all have responsibilities to juggle and pet ownership is optional.

                4. Mary Contrary*

                  Some possibilities off the top of my head are young dogs who can’t go a whole workday without being walked, a dog who needs medication during the day, a dog with separation anxiety…. When I was training my dog to be left alone, she cried until she puked – even at 10 minute intervals – until I found the right environment (small and cozy). Fortunately I was training when I was off work so she was ready by the time I started again, but there’s no way I could have left her alone all day before I finished training her up to several hours alone.

                  Doggy daycare isn’t the only option, but there are plenty of reasons a dog may not be able to stay home.

                5. Elizabeth West*

                  Biff and Mary Contrary–I see, though there are ways around this other than bringing your dog to work.
                  I wondered because all our dogs were always outside dogs. I have never had an inside dog. So peeing was never an issue, and we didn’t typically have puppies. They always had other animals around too, so they weren’t lonely.

                6. Biff*

                  Elizabeth, I agree there are ways around it. But, if people took this job specifically for this perk…. giving it up is going to be painful

                7. Green*

                  Elizabeth West — outside-only dogs are deprived of the pack-bond (and you’re deprived of the doggy snuggles in bed in the morning!), so it really isn’t caring for their emotional well-being to have outdoor only dogs.

                  That said, I have two dogs with separation anxiety, and they stay outdoors (both with shelter) in two separate pens or in separate rooms in the house (depending on the weather and length of time we’ll be gone), go to doggy day care on days that we’re going to be gone that will have high heat/low temperatures, and my spouse works from home. In the same way that it is someone’s responsibility to arrange for childcare, I agree that people need to arrange for their dogs to not be in the office.

      2. Retail Lifer*

        My dogs are home all day alone and when I work longer hours than usual I need to have someone come over and let them out and feed them. A dog-friendly workplace would be a dream so I would’t have to pay for this, and I would give up some other benefits for that one. If that perk was taken away, I might want to leave. It sucks to be in the OP’s position because it seems like the employer has tried nearly everything but banishing the dogs. If it comes down to that, the co-workers will all be made at him/her.

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yeah, I get wishing things didn’t have to change, but it seems unfair to be mad at the coworker because she doesn’t want to quit the job she recently started or be sick all the time.

          2. rory*

            People find it easier to blame the person they can see in front of them (the OP, who isn’t to blame) rather than the ones they can’t (the people who made this policy who didn’t realize that people are allergic to dogs, who ARE to blame).

            It’s human, but it’s not a good thing. I’d hope people would learn better, but some never do.

          3. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I don’t think RL is saying that at all.

            People can still be upset about something while understanding that it is necessary. They can also be upset at the loss of benefits and perks, while sympathizing with a coworker.

          4. Kelly O*

            I do think maybe you’re making RL’s answer worse than it is.

            She’s not saying the OP doesn’t have a right to breathe. She’s just saying it’s a perk that would woo many people to an office, and having that perk taken away because management did not think it all the way through would be frustrating, particularly if the job pays less or has longer hours, but allows dogs on-site (which I would assume probably goes along with other perks.)

            I think this also points out the importance of thinking through things, and possibly having dissenting voices or “devil’s advocate” when decisions like this are made. I’m not saying to overthink and draw stuff out, but it’s important to consider multiple perspectives when enacting policy. What may seem fine to you would make it difficult for others to work.

            I see both sides of this, and I really hope they come to a positive resolution. I’d be interested to know if other companies have considered this, and what their policies are.

            1. Green*

              I LOVE DOGS SO MUCH (I am also allergic to them and have allergic asthma, and have 2 dogs and a cat anyway). But the competing interests in the office are: I LOVE DOGS + inconvenience of leaving my dogs at home vs. severe legally protected health condition. If it comes to blows, “legally protected health condition” will win.

            2. Creag an Tuire*

              An update for you (because the thread above ran out of replies) — when I texted Ms. Tuire about this, her answer was “not sure — not many people are ‘that’ allergic though right?”

              So unfortunately I haven’t resolved anything except to demonstrate that yes, it is plausible that nobody’s thought through the ADA implications until just now. :(

          5. AnotherFed*

            I’d be frustrated that I had to find other care options for the animals, potentially on very short notice, and if I traded other benefits for this perk and was now losing this perk, I’d feel like this was a benefits cut. Personally, I have a very old dog who needs some special care, including medications at specific times. If banning the dog from the office interfered with her care, I’d be angry at the situation. I would still be professional to the person, but I would absolutely have to watch my bias against this person. If the OP is new and has no professional reputation yet with coworkers, her reputation is going to be ‘the person who got dogs banned’ for a very long time.

            1. Mike C.*

              There’s no reason for you to treat them as though “getting all the dogs banned” is the only thing attached to them.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              See, I think this bias against the person bullshit is just that–bullshit. People don’t choose to have potentially dangerous allergies. Yes, it’s inconvenient, and yes, if your dog is ill, you would want to be in a position to care for it regularly, but this is not on the person. It’s on the stupid-ass company for 1) not thinking this policy through all the way, and 2) being dicks about not letting people work from home. Your bias is severely misplaced.

              You having a dog that needs special care, if I were your boss and were trying to be dog-friendly, you could telecommute. That wouldn’t bother me one bit as long as you got your work done.

              1. AnotherFed*

                I completely agree it would be wrong to take anger at the situation out on the person with allergies – no one chooses to be allergic to things, and it’s a very reasonable accommodation – and it would also be inappropriate to take it out on whoever hired this person without telling them or showing them the office dog culture. In fact, anytime the phrase ‘take it out on’ comes up in a work/coworkers context, it’s probably not okay.

                What I’m trying to express (probably badly) is that people would likely have strong feelings about the situation and some of them may even have valid causes to be upset or concerned. In those circumstances, people have to be careful to make sure that they watch out for unconscious expressions of bias against the OP. I’m not talking about the obvious things, like Mean Girls level of ridiculous – any one beyond middle school should be expected to know better than to behave that way. I’m talking about the smaller, harder to spot things, like tending to help people you like sooner or more than people you aren’t close to, or assigning some people projects based on things you’re aware they’re interested in because of casual conversations with them and don’t think to give interesting things to others, or not inviting the OP to events with coworkers because they’re dog-related events and that person wouldn’t be interested anyway.

      3. rory*

        “Just curious, did the OP not interview in the office? Since their allergies are so severe, I’d be surprised if the interview didn’t trigger them.”

        I don’t think anyone my department has hired in the last 2 years has interviewed in person. It’s all been phone/long-distance. It’s not that uncommon; I can’t remember the last time I had an in-person interview. But, yes, you can miss important things that way.

      4. Anonathon*

        Right. It certainly wouldn’t be the OP’s fault, but it’s pretty crummy to all the dog-owning employees to take away a perk that can have a substantial financial benefit. Our dog is older and lazy, so we can leave her home without assistance and she hardly notices. But plenty of folks have foster dogs, puppies, dogs with medical needs, etc. — dogs who probably don’t need constant care, but can’t be 100% alone for 8-hours. And if those people took (or have kept) jobs with this company in part due to that perk, it would be rough to spring daycare or dog-walkers costs on them. That stuff gets expensive real fast.

        (Again, the company screwed up, not the OP. But it’s worth nothing that banning pets suddenly wouldn’t be the same as, say, banning chocolate.)

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          I mean, neither can kids, but we put them in day care. That’s an option for dogs, too.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, but this is like their free on-the-job day care is closing on them. That’s a big deal. Not saying it trumps the OP’s need, but it’s a respectable level of burden they’d be facing.

            1. VintageLydia USA*

              Nearly all options for specialized dog care are cheaper than standard, no extra bells and whistles, childcare. I am not sympathetic.

              1. fposte*

                And I can’t make you be, but I still don’t think that’s fair. If your job moved an hour further away from you, that would be a big deal. You’re not entitled to have it nearby, and it would cost you considerably less than paying for childcare to get there, but that doesn’t mean the additional burden can’t be difficult for you. I don’t see why a change in obligations has to meet a high threshold before people can find it a problem.

                I’m not remotely saying that it’s unfair to require people to do that. But I think dismissing the fact that it will be a problem for people–a solvable and modest problem but a problem nonetheless–makes a resolution harder, and that dismissal suggests to me an impulse to punish the pet owners for having their dogs in the office in the first place. Which I also don’t think is fair.

                1. VintageLydia USA*

                  But when that exact situation of an office move has come up in this site in the past (a couple weeks ago IIRC) the general sentiment was–that sucks but you’ll have to find a way to deal with that up to and including finding a new job. Having dogs in the office is a cool perk for a lot of people, but not having to be drugged up on allergy meds (while still being miserable according to the letter) to keep from possibly dying or at least a trip or two to the hospital (with the associated bills) trumps that perk.

                2. fposte*

                  I think you’re conflating two arguments here, though. Saying “Look, this is a PITA for the dog people” isn’t the same thing as saying they shouldn’t have to do it; I feel like you’re unwilling to grant that it’s a PITA because it feels like saying it shouldn’t have to happen.

                  And both things can be true simultaneously; many things that are worth it are PITAs, after all. If I were managing in that situation, I’d acknowledge this fact, talk about the transition time, and of course speak individually with any users of service animals to discuss ways to make accommodation mutual. But I’d definitely make sure to acknowledge that this is an obstacle and to be aware that for some people it changes the desirability of the job, which is a feeling they get to have.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  The company could find a near by doggie day care and perhaps work out a deal with the owner to offer a modest discount to employees.

                  The company could allow everyone a period of time to make alternative arrangements. Some people might be able to stop bringing their dog in immediately, others might take longer.

                  Maybe a couple of people will speak up because OP spoke up and OP will not be alone in this.

                  Or maybe OP’s boss knows of other options that OP is not aware of.

              2. Anonathon*

                Right, but you typically know that you need childcare when you take a job. And if the company has free, onsite care, that’s likely a major reason to take that job over another one! (Do such magical things exist?)

                In this case, the ability to bring their pets to work either factored into (some of) the employees decisions to work in this place or has since factored into their decision to stay there. It would be fine if the company never offered this perk in the first place, but it’s crummy to have folks make decisions based on it and then take it away. (Again, company’s fault — but still a lousy situation.)

            2. Green*

              It would suck to lose a perk. Especially one that people really like. But they didn’t plan this policy out well for the inevitable day when someone had a health issue.

        2. Liz*

          Yes. The cost of doggie daycare means this is tantamount to a massive pay cut (doggie day care would cost $1000/month for me). I would be livid if I worked there and they took this perk away. Being new, the OP is hierarchically lowest and just needs to find a new job (I know that sounds callous, but it’s just the reality).

          Also, I have never known someone who was lucky enough to work in a place like this except for a friend who worked at the Urban Outfitters corporate offices (well-known for this policy). So I’m having a tough time believing the OP’s only options are dog-friendly work places.

          1. Zahra*

            Actually, being intensely allergic, OP has the law on her side that the business MUST accommodate her as long as it doesn’t pose “undue hardship” to the business. Being that dogs are not an integral part of the business model of the business, the employees with dogs can certainly be upset but they’ve got to suck it up seeing as they’re not legally entitled to having dogs at work, whereas their fellow employee is legally entitled to breathe at work.

    5. KJones*

      My dogs would be upset if they went to work with me every day and then I suddenly stopped as well.

      1. Mike C.*

        Ok, but you do understand that your coworker’s health is more important than the feelings of your dogs, right?

        1. Myrin*

          Yeah, I’m a bit taken aback by that attitude and quite surprised by the priorities some people seem to have. I can understand being unhappy if what is a great perk to me would be taken away, especially if it means now having to find an alternative (probably costly) solutation, but I’d do it in a heartbeat if it meant a coworker literally would be able to breath freely.

          1. INTP*

            I am bothered but not at all surprised based on the dog owner entitlement I see everyday. Maybe it’s a local problem – maybe in some cities it’s unheard of to have someone angry at you because you asked them to please keep their dog from pawing at you in a restaurant where the dog is legally forbidden to be in the first place – but I no longer expect anyone to put the health and safety of other humans above their desire to be with their dog 24/7. (I know this is not the vast majority of dog owners, but it’s enough of them that I’m not surprised when the attitude shows itself.)

          2. AAA*

            I’m definitely not saying that the employer shouldn’t accommodate the OP by banning the office dogs; I’m just saying that it would be really disappointing to have to do so and incur additional unexpected expenses by having this perk removed, especially if that perk was a major reason you chose the job. This is not on the OP (who of course deserves to breathe freely) but on the employer, who should have thought through a solution in the first place.

        2. Curious George*

          This is not true for everyone. Different people will assign different levels of importance to different things.

          1. Mike C.*

            Basic ethics would put rank the health of a human over the temporary disappointment of a pet animal.

            1. Andy*

              A friend of mine was t-boned at an intersection. the At-fault veh had a driver and three unrestrained dogs.
              The driver of the at-fault left the scene in order to rush her dogs to the vet. My friend was airlifted and never saw the at-fault till court.
              And please don’t tell me how your dog is your ‘fur-baby’. Babies are people. Dogs are not people. Your love for your dog is not equivalent to my love as a parent.

              1. Curious George*

                “Your love for your dog is not equivalent to my love as a parent.”

                Not that it is s “love contest” but no one is a position to gauge or judge someone else’s love for someone/something else.

                1. Creag an Tuire*

                  I’m pretty sure I love my cat more than I love -your- children, but the latter has a potentially deadly reaction to the former I’m going to accept that it’s the cat that has to go.

                  Then again, something like 15% of pet owners would sooner get a divorce then lose the pet, so yeah.

              2. LBK*

                I mean, I’m pretty sure I actually do love my cat as much as some people love their children, but I’m also not stupid enough to think that my desire to (completely unnecessarily) bring her into the office is in any way comparable to someone’s ability to, y’know, be alive.

                1. Myrin*

                  Right? Especially since the matter at hand isn’t “either my cat dies or someone else’s child dies” – which I must admit isn’t a choice I’d want to make -, it’s “either I leave my dog at home for a few hours or my coworker at the very least gets severely ill”.

              3. AJS*

                That last sentence is a prime example of why many parents are seen as insufferable by those without children.

              4. Green*

                You are correct that dogs are not people, but people aren’t inherently better than dogs.

              5. Marcela*

                Perhaps my love for my pets is not equivalent to your love as a parent. But hell will freeze before _I_ consider _your_ child more important than _MY_ pet. I can understand the theory of your argument, but it is really presumptuous and insufferable when the argument is moved to the personal sphere. No, I do not care about your child. (Obviously, there are complicated exceptions to this. But in the event of an accident, given that any wounded person would be taken care of, while my pets will be left to die unless I do something about it, yeah, I would rush to the vet clinic after leaving my info).

                1. Marcela*

                  I forgot to say that in this specific discussion, yes, the right of my coworker to breath or having a healthy environment trumps my pet’s right to go with me to the office. No buts in here.

                2. AMG*

                  Thank goodness you are not a lawmaker, Marcela! You ARE someone’s child. Should my pet take precedent over you because I don’t know you? Are you really trained to determine who needs medical help and who is ‘okay’, especially when that person in the wreck left to get the animals to the vet while Andy’s friend had to be airlifted to the hospital?
                  At least you acknowledge that your pet’s presence isn’t as important as OP’s right to breathe and earn an income.

                3. BananaPants*

                  Sorry, but humans > pets. And yes, my kid is indeed more important than your pet (so am I, for that matter). I’d be willing to bet that rushing from the scene of an accident where actual humans sustain life-threatening injuries (worthy of medevac) in order to get Fido checked out at the vet would result in a massive and well-deserved civil suit, if not a hit-and-run criminal charge. A good lawyer would have a field day with that.

                4. AnotherFed*

                  Unless you’re a trained medical professional, what value will you add at an accident scene beyond ensuring that you called 911, the authorities arrived, and your information is left with the appropriate authorities? All you’re going to do is stand around while EMTs, firefighters, and police handle the accident scene. I had some EMT training a long time ago, but even that is pretty useless unless the one gauze pad and package of quick clot in my car first aid kit are all you need… in which case, your life sure wasn’t in danger!

                5. Green*

                  AMG & BananaPants — but is YOUR child more important than someone else’s child? (No.) Personal relationships matter to people, and so does responsibility. If your kid and someone else’s kid were drowning and you can only save one, you save your kid even though one is not objectively more important than the other. I have responsibility for my pet, and you have responsibility for your kids. I don’t know who I’d save if your kid and my dog were drowning, but during that split-second decision I would definitely consider that I am the only one responsible for my dog…

                  These are complex personal and ethical decisions (which are of no relevance to the OP), and there’s no point in circularly asserting that you are right simply because you are right while needlessly making people who believe that animals are living moral beings that have no less of a moral claim to life than humans mad/sad with dismissive comments.

                6. AMG*

                  Green, you are a truly deplorable human being if you really think your dog’s life matters more than someone else’s child.

                7. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Hey, it’s not cool to call other commenters “deplorable” here when they’re engaging in civilized discussion. Please don’t do that. Thank you.

                8. AMG*

                  I can think of no other word for such disregard for another person’s life. Actually, I can, but you don’t want profanity on this blog either. I can’t think of a more offensive, terrible thing to say about another person than to say their kids’ lives mean less than a dog. Stunningly inappropriate and maladjusted. Hope that’s better.

                9. Marcela*

                  Well, @AMG, since I am not medically trained, what good does if I stay in the scene of the accident, after I called 911 and reported my responsibility to the police? Do you truly want me there, in the middle of important stuff, when there is nothing I could do, just because that other person is more important than my pet? Really? Do you believe that’s a good use of everybody’s time? Well, I don’t. Not because every single person is not valuable, which they are. But because there are some things only I can do and care about.

                  Funny you’d think I would not wait for the police or it will be a hit and run. People who claim animals are less important than people are always rushing to judgment. I wonder if it is that hard to think we can be different, we can be very compassionate and responsible and still care more about what is my life, than someone I don’t know, without thinking of extreme cases designed to make absolutely obvious that oh, God! I am a misery of a human being in a hypothetical situation not even described in full detail!

                  Having said that, yes, I am very happy I am not a lawmaker. Not that I get why that’s relevant here. We can’t presume lawmakers in any part of the world are models of compassion, decency or even logic. And no, I don’t presume I am more important than your pet. I am not egotistical, you know?

              6. AMG*

                Exactly, Andy. and I adore my dogs and cat. I loved my cat like a child, and told everyone so. Then I had an actual kid and that blows away any kind of love I thought I knew. To value the life of a pet over any human life is just bizarre. Call it insufferable or judgmental all you want, but it’s true and the vast, vast majority of parents will agree. Maybe they know something you don’t.

                1. Green*

                  It’s true for you. To assume that it’s then true for everyone else is the insufferable part.

                2. AMG*

                  And to say that my truth is invalid because you haven’t experienced it–and therefore a dog is more important than a child because you don’t know that kid– is asinine. Slow clap to that.

            2. tired of interns*

              I think it’s more about the cost involved in not bringing the dogs to work. If I worked there, I took the job at $salary, factoring the cost of not having to pay a dog walker and/or daycare into my salary negotiations.

              Now if the company says in order to accommodate this employee everyone has to make other arrangements for their dogs, that’s hitting all those employees in the walletwhich is a much bigger deal than “dog’s hurt feelings.”

              1. Nerdling*

                I can sort of see that, but at the same time, circumstances change. I went into maternity leave thinking I was going to go back to work leaving my child with my husband, thereby saving on child care. Turns out, the work he was doing ended up being way too intense to do that and take care of an infant, so we scrambled to find last-minute daycare. An unexpected expense.

                By the same token, what if you took the job knowing you could take your dog in, but it turned out that your dog wasn’t adaptable to office life? Suddenly your careful salary negotiations are busted by the simple fact that your dog’s personality isn’t compatible with being an office dog. An unexpected expense.

                And I’m sorry, but getting to go to work with my pet is a lot less important than other people being able to pay for their needs by working here.

              2. Mike C.*

                Then sort it out with management! It’s their fault for not having a backup plan to comply with a law older than a high school graduate.

              3. Elizabeth West*

                The company should have thought that through then. It’s on them. And Katie the Fed said something upthread about insurance, which could be a HUGE problem for the company if anybody’s dog bit someone.

            3. Green*

              I think severe “health” condition vs. “temporary disappointment” is perhaps “basic ethics.” But the human vs. animal (and random human vs. animal that you have sole responsibility for its wellbeing) are different concepts, and it’s pretty offensive to state it as obvious.

              1. Mike C.*

                It’s not a “random human being”, it’s a “human being that will needlessly suffer greatly to the extent of possible medical emergency against well established federal law” vs, “the temporary disappointment of your pets”.

                The comparison is actually much stronger now.

        3. My 2 cents*

          Actually, I disagree. My dogs were here first and were part of my agreement with my employer before the new person came. It was a total screw up that she didn’t know about the dogs when hired, but it’s not my responsibility to change my work agreement, which would have a HUGE impact on my work and home life, not to mention the health of my dogs, for someone who had the option to work there after this arrangement was already in place. Plus, what if my dogs are service dogs and have to be at work with me?

          1. Helka*

            It is your employer’s responsibility to change your work agreement if it is threatening the health of another employee as it stands, though.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            But the law says differently.

            For what it’s worth, most workplaces that allow dogs have explicit rules in place that the permission can be revoked at any time if the dog is aggressive, disruptive, pees on the carpet more than once, or whatever. So most people aren’t going into these arrangements thinking it’s absolutely permanent and can never be changed.

          3. UKAnon*

            If your dog is a service dog then that’s a different issue – although presumably the first thing the company would try is OP at one end of the room, service dog at the other. But the simple fact is if you don’t need your dog there then sucks to be you. Just like they can change your holiday allowance/pay/other perks, the company can change their policy, and you can decide whether working there or having your dogs means more to you.

          4. Green*

            If they’re service dogs and there’s no way to reconcile your ADA accommodation with OP’s ADA accommodation, then OP’s accommodation becomes an undue hardship and isn’t legally required. But short of that, everyone else just has to deal because that’s the law.

            1. Mike C.*

              It’s highly unlikely that there’s “no way to reconcile” the two accommodations. A lot of folks just don’t seem to be willing to put in the time or effort to think about it and come up with a solution.

              1. Green*

                I said “If X AND Y, then Z.” I didn’t presume that there’s no way to reconcile, just that if that condition also existed, then the likely outcome was Z. And I haven’t seen anyone on the thread really going into this specific issue.

            2. Geof*

              Service Dog handler here. I have one co-worker who is very allergic to dog dander. My previous Service dog was a Lab/German Shepherd mix and very.. fluffy. The fix for us was two fold, the employer got an air filter for her workspace and my dog got a bath three times a week (up from once a week). It worked for us and her severity of allergy.. so some service dogs and some people with dog allergies can work together.

          5. Blossom*

            Your dogs are not employees, though. And yes, it is your responsibility to co-operate with any changes in policy, inconvenient as it may be.

            Service dogs are a different kettle of fish. (Though, “dogs”, plural?).

          6. Ezri*

            This isn’t just a random policy change, though, it’s a health-related accommodation that they might be required to enforce by law. There are lots of things an employee can legally change from your original ‘agreement’ with an employer – hours, pay, location.

            My employer made me move to a different office less than a year after being hired. The old office is still there, three minutes from my house, but I have to commute to the one half an hour away because my team is there. That wasn’t the original agreement, and it did throw a monkey wrench into my life. But short of quitting there isn’t anything I can do about it.

            Not to mention that they changed my terms based on a business reason that I don’t benefit from, and in OPs case the change would help her breathe at work. Breathing is important.

            1. Ezri*

              Oye. I meant that the employer can legally change an employee’s hours / pay / location. Though it’d be nice if I could just decide to change that stuff. :D

          7. Mike C.*

            Actually, it’s your management’s responsibility to change the work environment, and no, the OP isn’t responsible to self select out.

            Furthermore, I’m getting tired of people bringing up service dogs not out of curiosity but as some panacea to deny the OP and folks like her the right to a safe work environment. Both accommodations must be met, and the owners of the work place need to suck it up and come up with a proper solution.

            1. arewehumanorarewedancer*

              Yes. It’s using one disability to invalidate another one. Pitting various disabilities against each other isn’t cool. There’s no need to play disability olympics; BOTH are valid, BOTH should be accomodated. “But service dogs!” isn’t a way to deny the OP their right to be able to breath.

          8. Kassy*

            I think the dander of one service dog is probably not aggravating OP’s condition to the degree that an office full of dogs is. I could be wrong here, but I think the amount of allergens would make a difference. Also, UKAnon’s accommodation would probably work here.

        4. KJones*

          Of course! I didn’t mean it like that — I just meant the KJones house would be a little bummed for a while. I would be sad to lose what I considered to be a perk. We’d live, obviously. My negative feelings would be directed toward the management, who handled this pretty terribly.

          I would never suggest my dogs come to work over an employee.

        5. Biff*

          I’m going to step in here and be the bad guy.

          No, I don’t care. Not in any meaningful way. I’m a cog in a wheel in a machine in a building. If it’s no trouble for me to accomodate or help a coworker, I’m all over it. But what I’ve learned in the last two years is that there’s a strong element of dog-eat-dog in American Corporate Politics and that means that if someone has the choice of being ‘good’ or throwing me under the bus — I’m likely under the bus. They don’t care about my ability to put food on the table, and so it’s nice if I care about theirs, but it’s not in my best interests at all.

          I really wish it wasn’t like this. I really do. It’s not the person I want to be. But it’s the truth. At the end of the day I have to care about getting mine, because no one else is going to.

      2. sam*

        but your feelings, and your dog’s feelings, are not protected disabilities under the ADA. OP’s severe and life-threatening allergies are.

        1. Green*

          I mean, I understand the *emotion* behind it. I just don’t understand the rational hat not coming out to remind yourself that the emotion you are feeling needs to go away.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        A dog’s upset or happiness can be banked off of what we teach them. We can teach a dog, “It is okay”, when things are okay. We can teach a dog “No” and we can teach them about danger, too.

        I have noticed that if I remain calm, then my dog is more likely to remain calm. If I get upset, then my dog tends to get upset along with me.

        Of course, not in all cases. Some dogs are exceptions. In general terms, dogs tend to follow our lead.

    6. INTP*

      But that wouldn’t be a reasonable thing to be upset at the new employee for. You should be upset with your company for not managing the perk in a way that was sustainable. They should have disclosed in the hiring process regardless, and ideally had a viable solution for employees with allergies like a dog-friendly side of the building (which would still cause issues for me when everyone in a meeting was covered with dog hair). Is the employee just supposed to resign and be unemployed when the law is on her side rather than the company’s?

    7. JB (not in Houston)*

      I love love love dogs, and I would love to be able to bring my dog to work. But although I’d be sad to lose the perk, I hope that I would understand that when the result is causing someone to suffer all day, four days a week, I would not be really upset about it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is what fposte was driving at upthread. Just because a person can agree that another human life trumps their dog’s ability to come to work, does not mean the person will not be sad about leaving the dog at home. A person can make the right choice and still be sad.
        Human beings are capable of having many opposing emotions at the same time. This is what makes us complex. I sincerely doubt that many people here have not experienced dual conflicting emotions. Most people have.

    8. Ad Astra*

      I would be less upset if the reason were a severe allergy than if it was just a preference. And if I knew my HR department and hiring manager failed to mention the dog thing before hiring a severely allergic candidate, I’d direct my anger at the HR department and hiring manager, not my poor coworker.

      1. Andy*

        I guess I can understand that to some extent, but regardless of allergy or preference your co-worker is a person and people are more important to the workforce than dogs. For the most part. Except if I fall off a boat, then send a dog.

        1. Jessa*

          Yes but it depends on the definition of preference. If I don’t want to be near dogs because I have panic attacks due to PTSD stemming from a violent dog attack when I was a child, I have an ADA case that has nothing to do with allergies, and if your dog is not a service dog, I’m probably going to win. Being terrified of dogs is just as valid a reason, even if some people’s issues do not rise to ADA accommodation status. This company made a serious mistake not explaining the dog thing at interview.

          1. Green*

            Being afraid of dogs is only as valid if the fear of dogs rises to ADA; similarly, the allergy is only a legally “valid” reason if it rises to ADA. If it can be resolved with medication, then the employee has the obligation to take a claritin.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                To assess whether it qualifies as a disability under the ADA, you’d use the unmedicated state. But through the interactive process of discussing accommodations, if medication solved the problem without unacceptable side effects, that could be the accommodation settled on.

    9. katamia*

      Same. If OP’s coworkers can figure out she’s the reason for it (which it sounds like they could pretty easily, but I don’t know for sure), I could see this negatively impacting her relationships with them, too.

    10. Vicki*

      Wow. Yes. I don’t see how stopping a well-known company-wide perk can be considered a reasonable accommodation that “won’t impose an ‘undue hardship'”. All of your co-workers will consider this to be a hardship and that _will_ affect the operation of the business.

      Is it s “reasonable” accommodation for every employee to change something they’ve been doing for one new person? For example, if a new employee was allergic to peanuts, does the entire company need to go peanut-free? At what point does one person’s accommodation become unreasonable when it affects everyone else?

      Bryan said “But here, there would not be a direct expense of banning dogs from the office.”

      Oh, that’s wrong. There will be direct expense. There will be people who signed up with this company because if this benefit. If those people are highly skilled and desirable, they may very well consider leaving. The loss of even one in-place skilled employee will be a direct expense.
      Unfortunately for the OP, it will be easier and cheaper to replace her now than to replace anyone who leaves because their benefits have changed. (Also, the OPs relationship with those who don’t leave but can not longer bring their dogs to work will be harmed.)

      They should have told you this up front. (Are you certain that they didn’t? Did you check out the company’s web site?? Were there no dogs around when you came for an interview?)

      Think very hard before you become “the person who is directly responsible for having a benefit taken away from everyone.”

      1. Vicki*

        People leave companies because they take away free sodas, because they take away telecommuting, because they change vacation accrual policies, because they change medical insurance plans, because they stop 401 K matching.