As the medical community has begun to recognize the value of emotional support animals, people all over the country that suffer from emotional challenges have been freed suffering when out in public. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, ESA’s can accompany a patient onto the cabin of an airplane and in a rental unit that does not otherwise allow animals on the property. Furthermore, in both cases, the airline and landlord are not allowed to charge the patient an extra fee for the use of an ESA.
The ADA is a Federal law and the ruling applies to everyone in the United States. However, as with many of our laws, the details can very across state lines. While some states may go just far enough to respect the law, others can go the extra mile to provide added protections. In the case of emotional support animals in New York State, there are some added protections in place for handlers of ESAs. However, it’s also important to remember that some aspects of the laws for emotional support animals in New York are a bit vague and therefore open for interpretation.
First, don’t forget that no matter what you are told, certified ESA’s are legally allowed to accompany you on an airline or housing unit. That law is solid anywhere in the country. Additionally, New York does have some added protections in place for ESA’s in the workplace, but this is where things get tricky. New York does not recognize ESA’s as service dogs, so at first glance it would seem they are not protected within the work place. HOWEVER, state and federal law do require that employees with a disability be properly accommodated by the employer.
In the case of certified and registered emotional support animals in New York, it means that a mental health professional has recognized your disability and signed off on your need for emotional support. You can take this certification to your employer with the claim that your ESA is a reasonable accommodation for your recognized disability. At this point, the employer may be required to allow your ESA at work. Keep in mind that this aspect of the law is not as fleshed out as in some other states. Every employer is different, and while some may happily accommodate the law, others may see the open-ended nature of the language as an opportunity to ignore your request.
However the law is going to be interpreted, it’s essential for your emotional support animal to be properly certified and registered. Without certification, you won’t have any recourse against an airline, employer, or landlord, that decides to deny your right to emotional well-being. Stay up to speed with the current state and Federal laws, because they can change quickly and without warning. If you’re ever unsure about the legal status of your emotional support animal, you can always check our website for important updates as we hear about them.