I perform HR consulting services for some clients acting as a trusted advisor for all manners of HR questions, incidents or events between employees.
Today an HR Director of a large chemical manufacturing firm (550+ employees) called to say that she knew that HR under ADA had to be accommodating to employees with service animals (dogs or small horses).
And that she had advised employees that covered ”service animals” are only specially trained dogs/small horses. So people can’t bring in their lizards, cats, or other creature pets and think they qualify because they help alleviate stress. Because once the first service animal was allowed the next day people had all manner of pets in their workspace. They had turned work into a menagerie with animal hair, feces and urine on the floor.
But today an office worker requested to bring in her woobie (XXL childs blanket) saying that it helped treat her PTSD.
HR determined that it was disruptive at work and was not allowed as one of employees 6 personal items that they are allowed at their desk per HR Employee Handbook.
The HR Director wanted to be accommodating, but she was worried that if she allowed it, she would be setting a standard that large items are allowed and the next thing she would know is that people would be bringing in welcome mats for their offices, floor coverings, and art items for the wall.
So she asked for an outside opinion, I told that she could tell the employee that if she obtains a Doctor’s note saying that its needed, and by making sure it’s not disruptive, the employee could have it at her desk.
That I had noticed that many of the current employees have a child pictures or artwork at their desk that is currently outside the allowed size of the 6 personal items.
This way if anybody else wants to bring in a welcome mat, floorcovering, quilt, they would need to go to the expense of getting a doctor’s note, which should prevent most of them from pushing the boundaries of HR.
That’s my 2 cents
Dennis Hester SPHR/SCHRM-SCP
Your thoughts? on Woobies at work?