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Badge - Rated by Super Lawyers Anthony P. Kearns third
Badge - Million Dollar Advocates Forum
Badge - Multi Million Dollar Advocates Forums
Badge - New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Attorney
Badge - New Jersey's Best Lawyers For Families 2018
Badge - AV Preeminent Victor A. Rotolo 2024
Badge - Client Champion Gold 2024
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Please click Award & Selection Criteria & Methodology for information regarding the specific criteria used for selection of each of the above awards.

March 2023 - Dogs in the Workplace - Benefit or Liability?

Dogs in work It may be true that pets can elevate moods, reduce stress, and promote a happier work environment, but allowing dogs—the # 1 pet in the U.S.—in the workplace raises a serious question:

If a dog bites someone while on a business’ property, is the business liable?

The answer to that question depends on the circumstances surrounding the specific incident.

Businesses have an obligation to provide a safe environment for employees, vendors, and customers. A dog-friendly business that is aware of the aggressive behavior of a particular dog on its premises and takes no action can be held liable for any injuries that dog causes. In an office setting where the same people and the same dogs are present regularly, it shouldn’t be too difficult to identify aggressive behaviors and take preventative measures. A retail setting is different.

Courts recognize that retail businesses may have a hard time identifying potentially dangerous dogs and that requiring them to do so puts an unreasonable burden on that business. That doesn’t release the business of liability though. If a retail employee notices that a customer is not following the store’s policy regarding pets or sees signs of aggressive behavior by an animal and doesn’t ask the customer to leave, that employee opens the business up to liability should anything happen.

Ultimately dog owners are responsible for the actions of their pets; however, in the case of dog bites or other injuries caused by dogs in the workplace, liability can be shared. To help protect your business in these circumstances be sure to:

  • Post signs clearly alerting visitors to the possible presence of dogs.
  • Instruct employees to recognize and report aggressive behaviors in dogs and/or violations of the business’ policies regarding animals.
  • Require customers / visitors to keep their pets on a leash, or in a cart or carrier while on premises.

Dogs may be man’s best friend, but it’s important to remember that a dog may snap if frightened or provoked.

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