POL - 80.01.3 Service and Emotional Support Animals in the Workplace Policy

Board of Trustees
Responsible Office:
Human Resources
Office of Human Resources, 919-530-5214, mhill73@nccu.edu
Effective Date: September 27, 2021

1.  Policy

North Carolina Central University (NCCU or University) is committed to and accessible to all individuals with disabilities and providing those individuals with access to programs, services, and facilities. We recognize that individuals with disabilities may require the assistance of Service or Emotional Support Animals (ESA’s) while on University property. The purpose of this regulation is to address the use of service and emotional support animals by eligible individuals with disabilities at the University.

2.  Covered Employees

This policy applies to all faculty, staff, and students of NCCU as well as visitors and/or guests of the University in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”), and NC laws.

3.  Definitions

3.1  A service animal (Service Animal) is any guide or signal dog or other animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, such as guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting persons with impaired hearing, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items. The service that the dog is providing must be directly related to the individual’s disability.  If a dog meets this definition, it qualifies as a Service Animal. Service Animals are not required to be licensed or certified by state or local governments or to wear a vest or harness.

3.2  An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is any animal (typically a dog or cat, however does include other species of animals) that provides a therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship. The animal provides emotional support and comfort to individuals with psychiatric disabilities and other mental impairments.  An ESA is not a pet, a Service Animal, or a therapy animal.  An ESA may be requested by a student with a psychiatric disability as an accommodation for University housing.  An ESA may be requested by a student with a significant diagnosed psychiatric disability to provide NCCU housing, University programs and campus activities companionship. An ESA is not considered a Service Animal via disability law nor per this policy.

3.3  Pet denotes a domestic animal kept for pleasure or companionship.

3.4  Disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual.

3.5  Visitor designates an individual other than an employee faculty, staff, or student who is a guest on campus or one who participates in a university program, service, or activity.

4.  Service Animals

4.1  Service Animals are allowed to travel with their owners in most areas on campus – including offices and clinics, academic spaces, fitness areas, dining and residence halls, and libraries – unless the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, is disruptive to the University community, or its presence fundamentally alters the program or space. 

4.2  Service Animals are not allowed in certain research laboratories, mechanical rooms, custodial closets, areas where protective clothing is necessary, areas where there is a danger to the animal, and meal preparation areas, wood/metal/machine shops, nuclear research areas, classrooms with demonstration/research animals, areas where protective clothing is necessary, and/or other areas where the animal’s presence may constitute a danger or a fundamental alteration of the program or activity conducted in the area. Access to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting the appropriate department and/or laboratory representative and the ADA Consultant.

4.3  Only two questions may be asked of a person with a Service Animal: 

​​​​​​4.3.1  Is this a service animal that is required because of a disability?

4.3.2  What task or work is the animal trained to perform for the person?

4.4  To request a demonstration of the work performed by a Service Animal, or to request documentation of training, is improper and against compliance regulations.

4.5  Always speak first to the owner, when communicating with the owner of a Service Animal. The Service Animal is performing a job/service and should not be addressed nor treated as a domestic pet

4.6  Immediately report disruptive behavior of a Service Animal to the University Police Department 919-530-6106. Do not attempt to separate a handler from their Service Animal.

5.  Emotional Support Animals (ESA)

5.1  NCCU has established guidance in NCCU REG 40.01.5 Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals on Campus Regulation regarding service animals, service animals in training, and ESA’s to assist members of the NCCU community with disabilities.

5.2  ESAs are permitted to reside in University student housing unless the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, is disruptive to the University community, or its presence alters the program or space.  An ESA must remain in designated areas within the student’s residential building and unit and is not permitted in dormitory common spaces unless in transit. ESAs are also not permitted in University non-residential buildings, including but not limited to dining halls, classrooms, offices, laboratories, or recreation facilities.

5.3  Immediately report disruptive behavior of an Emotional Support Service Animal to NCCU Residential Life. Do not ever attempt to separate an Emotional Support Animal from its owner.

6.  Pets

Pets are domestic or tamed animals kept for companionship or pleasure kept as a pet in family households such as dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters. Pets are not permitted in University housing nor in campus buildings. Pets are not eligible to be considered as a component of a reasonable accommodation for faculty, staff, or students, and they are excluded as service or emotional support animals.

7.  Owner Responsibility and Control of Service and ESA Animals

7.1  The owner must be in full control of the service or ESA animal at all times. The owner must keep the service animal on a leash when the animal is in a public area (i.e. classroom, library, common area of a residence hall, outdoors on campus, etc.), unless the service animal is required to perform a task that it could not accomplish while on a leash or the owner is otherwise unable to maintain the animal on a leash due to a disability; in such case the owner still must be able to maintain control over the animal. Owner is not required to leash the animal in private areas assigned to the owner such as the owner’s office or residence hall room.

7.2  In accordance with Section 7 of NCCU REG-40.01.05 Service Animal and Emotional Support Animals on Campus Regulation, the owner will be held responsible for the safety, health, behavior, and actions of the service animal or ESA at all times. A service animal will be permitted to accompany its owner on campus in most places. Approved ESAs are not permitted outside of the owner’s presence or designated outdoor areas for natural relief. For the purpose of this agreement, the service animal or ESA is only permitted in University building(s) that are associated with the owner’s purpose for visiting the University’s campus.

7.2  A service animal or ESA must not obstruct or disturb any space or activity of an academic or other program or clinic, including but not limited to, residence halls, classrooms, labs, waiting areas, or hallways. The animal must not engage in other behaviors or noises that are disruptive to others in the specific environment. If an animal exhibits unacceptable behavior, the owner is expected to employ the proper training techniques to correct the situation.

7.3  All dogs must be “house broken” and cats must be trained to use a litter box. Litter boxes must be placed on mats so that waste is not tracked onto carpeted surfaces. Other smaller animals must be caged. The owner must always carry equipment sufficient to clean up the animal’s waste and must properly retrieve and dispose of the waste. Indoor animal waste must be placed in a sturdy bag and tied securely before being disposed of in outside trash dumpsters. Outdoor animal waste must be immediately retrieved by owner, placed in a plastic bag and securely tied before being disposed of in outside trash dumpsters. Owners who are physically challenged, and not able to retrieve and dispose of animal waste, are responsible for making arrangements waste removal assistance.

7.4  “Routine care” is the responsibility of the owner and includes, but is not limited to, the following:

7.4.1  Animals are expected to receive flea and tick prevention treatment, de-worming, and annual examinations. The University reserves the right to request documentation verifying this has occurred at any time.

7.4.2  Animals should be clean and well-groomed. Owners are expected to take reasonable efforts to reduce shedding and minimize the presence of pet odor, hair, or dander while on campus.

7.4.3  Animals will be provided with fresh water and appropriate food on a regular basis.

7.4.4  Animals should have a tag that identifies the owner and contact information in case of an emergency.

7.5  The University will not assume the care of an animal on campus, even during an emergency. Where an owner fails to care for, control, or attend to their animal (including, but not limited to abuse or neglect), NCCU will make arrangements with the proper local authorities to remove the animal from the owner’s custody in accordance with laws and regulations for animal rights. Animal abuse or neglect may subject the owner to disciplinary action and/or referral to University Police.

7.6  Owner’s may be held responsible for the cost of repairs for damage to University property caused by their service animal or ESA.

8.  Animal Vaccinations and Approvals

Dogs, cats, and ferrets on the University’s campus are required to have current rabies vaccines and wear rabies vaccination tags. ESA approval is animal specific therefore campus visitors must complete the Visitor Form for Service Animal or ESA form to request permission to have a new or different animal accompany them to conduct business while on campus.

9.  Removal of Service Animals

9.1  NCCU has the authority to remove a service animal from its property or facilities if the service animal becomes unruly or disruptive, unclean, and/or unhealthy to the extent that the animal’s behavior or condition poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others or otherwise causes a fundamental alteration in the university’s services, programs, or activities. If the animal’s behavior or condition persists, the owner may be informed not to bring the animal into public University areas until the problem is resolved.

10.  University Community Compliance

10.1     In observance of compliance requirements regarding service or emotional support animals, the University community as a whole shall:

10.1.1   Allow a service animal to accompany owner at all times and where permissible on campus.

10.1.2   Not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability who is accompanied by a service animal or ESA.

10.1.2   Not touch or feed any service animal, unless invited to.

10.1.3   Not intentionally startle, provoke, or injure an animal.

10.1.4   Not separate a service animal or ESA from its owner.

The owner is encouraged to instruct others on the appropriate interactions with the service or ESA animal and to remind members of the campus community of the above compliance requirements and expectations when situations arise.

11.  Provisions Regarding Unattended Animals

Service animals or ESA’s may not be left unattended by their owners or to be cared for by a University student or employee. 

12.  Owner Non-Compliance Results

In accordance with Section 9 of NCCU REG 40.01.5, owner obligations are ongoing.  A visitor with a prohibited or unapproved animal, including falsely presenting an animal or pet as a service animal or ESA, will not be permitted to bring the animal to campus. NCCU reserves the right to ask an owner to remove a service animal or ESA for non-compliance.

13.  Grievance and Conflicting Disabilities

13.1  If an individual believes that they have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability, or denied access or accommodations relative to service animals and ESAs, they may file a formal grievance through the established grievance procedure applicable for University employees per the University SHRA Employee Grievance Policy. All other individuals should contact the Office of Human Resources - Equal Employment Opportunity Department to file a complaint.

13.2  If an individual on the University’s campus has a covered disability under the ADA which includes an allergic reaction to animals, and that individual has contact with a service animal that is also approved for presence on campus, then a request for intervention and assistance will be made to the Office of Human Resources – Employee Relations ADA Consultant, Maggy Sivansay at msivansa@nccu.edu or 919-530-5144 who reviews all pertinent facts involving the contact/case and will endeavor to resolve the matter.

14.  Violations of this Policy

14.1  Any student, staff, or faculty member with a prohibited or unapproved animal is subject to discipline under: the NCCU POL 40.13.1 (Student Code of Conduct), OSHR SHRA Disciplinary Action Policy, OSHR Disciplinary Policy; NCCU Faculty Handbook; or other appropriate procedures. Likewise, any student with a Service Animal or approved Emotional Support Animal who violates any provision of this Policy is subject to discipline under the Code of Student Life. Such discipline may include the restriction or removal of the animal. Any violation of this Policy by a Service or Emotional Support Animal will be considered a violation by the partner/handler.

14.2  NCCU may ask an owner to remove a Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal for violations of this policy without initiating a disciplinary proceeding.

14.3  The University may remove from campus property animals that are prohibited, unapproved, or otherwise in violation of University policies.

14.4  In accordance with N.C. General Statute §168-4.2 to §168-4.6 (Persons with Disabilities, Service Animals), it is unlawful to deprive a person with a disability or a person training a service animal of any North Carolina rights or rights granted to general public with respect to being accompanied by animals.

15.  Visitor Consent to Share Information Regarding the Presence of a Service Animal or ESA

15.1  In some situations, it may be necessary at NCCU to disclose specific information relative to the presence of a service animal or ESA with individuals who may be impacted by the presence of the animal. This includes potential and/or current members of the NCCU community.

15.2  The information disclosed will generally be limited to information regarding the animal (such as type and size of the animal) and not regarding the owner. This consent remains in effect for the duration of time the designated service animal or approved ESA is on campus at NCCU.