Hi. I've been working for the same company for 17 years. A few months ago they announced that they are going to begin allowing people to bring their dogs to work. To make matters worse, we also have an open office policy (no offices, just pods with very low walls).
I am highly allergic to all animals with fur and end up with asthma for days if I allow myself to be in a situation with them. I've heard that they are making "accommodations" for people with allergies but in our office I can't think of one that would work.
I sent HR a note 2 months ago explaining my objections (note included below) and have heard nothing since other than the note was forwarded to the team making up the policy details.
Has anyone experienced anything like this? Any advice?
I've recently learned that the *** office will be dog friendly in the near future.
This policy change poses a significant problem for me and is an issue with my health and wellbeing. The most urgent issue is that I am highly allergic to all animals with fur. The dander, which is airborne, causes me not just to sniffle but results in wheezing and asthma which can last for days. This is in addition to the standard allergy symptoms of sniffles and itchy, red eyes. None of those conditions end immediately when I am removed from the situation with the animal.
My allergy triggered asthma has impacted my life in many ways. I've missed innumerable personal events due to friends' pets. I am unable to spend time at my sister’s house. I even had to end a relationship because of it. I structure my life and make decisions to function around the limitations I have due to my allergic asthma. I've never needed to consider it when coming to work. The fact that I now do is alarming and disappointing.
I understand that there will be proposed accommodations for those of us who are allergic. In an open office environment I cannot think of an accommodation that would work. The allergy is to the dander. To move me away from the animals does not account for the fact that dander is in the air. Additionally, to move me away from our team works directly against the culture of collaboration that is encouraged at ***.
In the conversations I've already had on this topic it was suggested that I take medication. In order to even spend a few hours with an animal I need to medicate myself so heavily that I'm so sleepy that I may as well not be there. I won't be getting a series of shots. The Americans with Disabilities Act specifically excludes requiring employees to take medication as part of a reasonable accommodation.
This decision by *** puts me in a contentious and uncomfortable situation with my fellow associates. Understandably they love their pets and many are excited about this change. My justified, wellness-based resistance to the idea makes me the bad guy. It has happened already. I’m having to defend myself due to a health condition that is not my fault. I’ve already overheard a conversation about “why doesn’t she just…”.
There will be both personal and professional repercussions to me as a result of this decision and any assurances that this will not be the case are not backed up by my experiences.
Thank you for any support or suggestions on dealing with this unfortunate situation.