TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas veteran who suffers from PTSD, finds herself out of a job after she is told by the mortgage company she worked for that she can not bring her service dog to work.
Army veteran Jennifer McAtee Willis informed her employer at a mortgage company, where she had worked for three years, that she was going to start bringing her service dog ‘Ace’ to work with her.
But a shocking letter was received just before she returned from time off.
“I was devastated. I worked really hard at my job. They denied me to have my service dog at work, and [said] if I didn’t come to work without him, that I would voluntarily be quitting my job,” she says.
Their language was ‘voluntarily resigning.’
According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers must negotiate reasonable accommodation provided that the dog qualifies as a service animal.
“My therapist had me file papers that I would need him at all times,” she said. “They said they would not accommodate me having a service dog period, they would not give me a reason."
The sticking point is the company claims Jennifer offered no proof Ace was a service dog.
“And we tried to give them more proof with my trainer’s letter, and they refused to take the letter,” Willis says.
"To be a service dog it has to perform certain tasks and Ace meets every one of those requirements," says service dog trainer Monty Hudson.
“I feel like I couldn’t fight for my dog, and my dog has done everything for me to be where I’m at today. and now I’m losing my job,” says Jennifer.
Longview attorney Ralph Pelaia, who is not representing Willis, says there's only one right thing to do according to the ADA.
"It's unreasonable. She served in the military, she's got PTSD. If they can use her in the work, they can use the dog to help her and she does not have to demonstrate for them what the dog does for her. They should accommodate her for that, period," Pelaia says.
"I don't want someone else to have to go through this, It's not fair," says Willis.
We tried numerous times to get in touch with Jennifer’s former employer, Mister Cooper Mortgage, to get their version of the incident, but they did not respond.