Be the Judge: Banning Service Dogs

July 2nd, 2010 by Kathy McManus

Is it ever right to deny the use of service dog?

Brought to you by Liberty Mutual's
The Responsibility Project

Emily Kysel has a potentially fatal allergy to paprika. The 24-year-old Indianapolis city worker nearly died five years ago from eating chili, and since then, The New York Times reports, “her allergy has sent her to the emergency room five times and caused her to jab herself with an anti-allergy injection 11 times, sometimes from just inhaling paprika nearby.”

Kysel’s boss banned co-workers from eating any foods containing paprika—like buffalo wings-- at their desks. Her family helped her buy a $10,000 allergy-detection service dog that alerts her to the presence of paprika by jumping on her. But the first day she took the golden retriever to work, a co-worker with an allergy to dogs suffered an asthma attack. Kysel’s boss then banned the dog.

Kysel contends that the city of Indianapolis has treated her unfairly by barring her service dog while allowing blind employees to use theirs. She has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a case The Times says “raises tough questions about how to balance the sometimes clashing interests of co-workers with disabilities.”

You be the judge: what’s the most ethical way to settle this case? Should one person’s allergy outweigh another’s?