PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WVEC) -- A disabled veteran thinks it's unfair and illegal for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to prohibit him from bringing his service dog to work.
Michael Fortuna is upset about the Navy's decision regarding his service dog, Bo, a 2-year-old Australian Cattle dog.
Fortuna is a security clerk at the Pass and I.D. Office at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and a former Navy Master at Arms.
He's also a patient at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center because Fortuna suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, specifically panic disorder and anxiety disorder.
In a letter, the V.A. states that the "companionship of a service dog would be greatly beneficial" to Fortuna, and "it is recommended he have a medical alert service dog."
However, there was a problem.
The shipyard denied Fortuna's request to bring his dog work, citing, among other things, the fears of co-workers.
"They just came in and told me I had to bring the dog home, and that I couldn't bring the dog to work anymore," he said. "The reason was people were afraid the dog was going to attack or might bite them, that it was an emotional support dog, and not a service dog."
Fortuna believes this is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act which requires "reasonable accommodation" for disabled employees with medical needs to perform the essential functions of a job.
In a statement to 13 News Now, the Navy said the following:
"The Navy Equal Employment Opportunities Specialists work with employees and care providers to provide reasonable accommodations that will support the individual, are in the best interest of the employee, the workplace, and the Navy. An employee who requires a service dog in the workplace to ensure they can perform the essential functions of their job must provide required documentation in accordance with the Navy's Office of Human Resources. This documentation includes certifications that the dog has been formally trained to assist the employee in their performance of their duties."
Senator Tim Kaine's office confirms it is taking a look at this case, but declined further comment.
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