OLATHE, Kan. — The U.S. government sued Hobby Lobby, claiming the popular chain violated federal law when it refused to allow an Olathe employee to use her service dog.
The lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also claims Hobby Lobby then fired the employee due to her disabilities.
According to the lawsuit, the employee notified her manager that she needed to bring her fully trained service dog to work. The dog is trained to help her with symptoms caused by PTSD, anxiety and depression.
Information provided by the EEOC shows the company’s human resources representative met with the employee to discuss her request but concluded the dog would present a safety concern. Hobby Lobby said a coworker or customer might be allergic to the dog, or trip over it. There was also concern that the dog could break something, according to the lawsuit.
The EEOC said Hobby Lobby fired the worker when she was unable to work without her service dog.
Court documents show Hobby Lobby does allow customers to bring service dogs and other dogs into the Olathe location.
The EEOC said the allegations violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination based on a person’s disability.
The lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and reinstatement for the employee, as well as injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination.
The EEOC said it tried to reach a pre-trial settlement for the employee, but was unable to do so.
FOX4 contacted Hobby Lobby for comment Friday morning. This story will be updated after the company responds to our request.