Australia: Should we banish the office dog just because our new employee has a problem with it?

Question: I recently hired an employee…He has fitted in to the workplace well and he’s doing a great job so far.

However, one issue has come up and I must admit this was not canvassed in the job interviews we conducted with him.

Our new employee is Muslim, so he informed me about his needs in regard to prayer times and some basics on dietary requirements, which was all fine. But an unexpected problem has popped up in that one of our other employees brings his dog to work every now and again. He’s been doing this for a couple of years and the dog is like part of furniture around here.

Our new employee has told me that as a Muslim he is uncomfortable with having the dog in the office…

Answer: This is a tricky situation but you do need to be aware of the rights of your employee to feel comfortable and respected in the workplace. While canine lovers find it hard to believe, some people are averse to dogs, usually out of fear or, as in this case, sometimes on cultural grounds.

Is there a compromise position that can be struck, such as keeping the dog in an area outside of the office like a courtyard? This way your dog-owning employee, and anyone else who wants to, can still say hello and pat the dog but it would be kept away from your new employee.

We live in a multicultural society and sometimes the things we take for granted are not necessarily the norm for other people. As an employer, you have to be mindful of this…

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