An employee of an advertising agency argued with her employer about whether she may continue to take her dog to work with her as she has to date. After the employee had been allowed to bring her dog, which she got from an animal welfare agency in Russia, to the office for three years, her employer prohibited this. According to the employer, the dog was "deeply traumatized", and its "social and territorial conduct" was dangerous. It growled at the employees' colleagues, who were thus afraid to enter her office. The dog also had a "bad odor". The employee cited the principle of equal treatment, because other employees are allowed to bring their dogs to work and the animal did not constitute a threat for others.

The Düsseldorf Regional Labor Court dismissed the action. Initially, it assumed that the employer is entitled to establish the conditions under which work is to be performed within the framework of its authority to issue instructions. This includes whether and under what conditions a dog may be brought to the office. The employer was allowed to change the first instruction because there were objective reasons for doing so. Based on the evidentiary hearing that the Labor Court had conducted -  to which the dog's personal appearance was ordered - it was clear to the Chamber that the claimant's dog was disrupting the work flow and that other colleagues subjectively felt threatened and disturbed by the dog. The employee did not defeat these findings of the Labor Court in the appeal proceedings. But even if the employer had initially assured the claimant conclusively that she was allowed to bring the dog to the office, this assurance would logically have been subject to the proviso that other employees and the work flow would not be disturbed. Because there was an objective reason for changing the previous practice, the principle of equal treatment had not been violated. The employee did not demonstrate sufficient substantiation for her accusation during the appeal proceedings that her employer was harassing her to convince the Chamber.

Practical Tips:

If you intend to bring your dog to your office in Germany, please make sure it has a sufficient number of legs and does not smell or bark. Furthermore, the Labor Court has not discussed whether the dog might have a claim under the German Anti-Discrimination Act.