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Q&A: Bringing Dogs to Church

You must make sure you're not subject to public accommodation provisions under state or local law.

A woman in our church has begun bringing her dog with her to worship services. She claims she has asthma, and the dog is able to alert her to oncoming asthma attacks. She insists on sitting in the middle of the sanctuary, which has distressed many of our members, some of whom are allergic to animals.

When I asked the woman if she would be willing to sit in the back row in order to resolve the concerns of her fellow parishioners, she became enraged and threatened to sue the church for violating her rights under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Is she right? Have we violated the ADA by asking that she and her dog sit in the back row of the church during worship services?

The Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") has two main provisions:

(1) Employment discrimination. The ADA prohibits employers with at least 15 employees, and that are engaged in interstate commerce, from ...

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  • May 3, 2010

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