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Disciplinary Processes for University Support Staff: Conduct Problems - FAQs

What is the formal, administrative process for handling disciplinary actions for university support staff?

Disciplinary processes for university support staff fall into two categories that are handled differently:

  • Performance
  • Conduct

What is a conduct issue?

A conduct issue is typically a specific job behavior that is disruptive or problematic in the work place. Attendance problems are handled as a conduct issue but may be addressed in or impact performance reviews. Listed below are some examples of misconduct prohibited Federal or State regulations, University policy and/or department rules, whether written or tacitly understood:

  • Absenteeism (excessive, unexplained or unexcused)
  • Abusive, obscene or profane language or conduct
  • Assault
  • Authority, unauthorized use for personal gain
  • Break periods, abuse of or unauthorized
  • Conduct on, or possibly off, the job                                     
  • Conducting non-university (personal) business during working hours     
  • Confidential information, releasing                
  • Conviction of a job-related crime
  • Damaging university property                                              
  • Dishonesty or false statements
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Disruption of the workplace
  • Driving university vehicles without proper authorization
  • Drug (illegal) abuse or possession
  • Entering a restricted area without permission
  • Failure to adhere to a reasonable supervisory request
  • Failure to maintain harmonious and effective
  • Failure to maintain harmonious and effective working relationships
  • Failure to report to work or notify supervisor of intended absence (no call – no show)            
  • Falsifying records, applications, time cards
  • Fighting
  • Horseplay
  • Hygiene (poor)
  • Insubordination
  • Lateness (excessive, chronic, without explanation or acceptable excuse)
  • Leaving work early or without permission
  • Negligence
  • Political activity (partisan-conducted at work)              
  • Posting unauthorized notices or other material                               
  • Refusal to perform assigned work
  • Safety rule violations
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sleeping on the job
  • Smoking violations
  • Telephone, unauthorized use of
  • Theft
  • Use of university equipment, unauthorized
  • Vandalism
  • Weapons (unauthorized use, carrying, concealing)
  • Working hours violations

What process is used to address conduct issues?

Conduct issues are generally addressed by using a progressive disciplinary process with:

  • Informal and formal warnings;
  • Formal disciplinary action in the form of suspension, demotion, and/or dismissal.

For guidance on addressing a performance or conduct issue of an employee that reports to you, please submit a request disciplinary action or request guidance.

Misconduct problems with an employee serving on an initial probationary period may be grounds for the department to recommend termination of employment, without the necessity of progressive discipline since the probationary period is a “testing” period for suitability of continued employment.

How is the progressive disciplinary process used to address those issues?

If misconduct problems arise, supervisors should:

  • Informally discuss those problems with the employee;
  • Identify specific problems to the employee;
  • Indicate needed corrective measures;
  • Seek input from the employee to identify effective ways to address the needed conduct changes;
  • Document informal counseling either with supervisory notes or with a memo to the employee.

If the problems continue, the supervisor should seek guidance on addressing a performance or conduct issue by submitting a request disciplinary action or request guidance.

What happens if problems continue after formal counseling?

If incidents of misconduct continue to occur, the department may recommend further disciplinary action. A 3-day suspension is usually the next step, with dismissal being the final disciplinary action. The department submits a recommendation for disciplinary action to HR using the Request for Disciplinary Action form (P-14) .

What factors influence the level of disciplinary action recommended by a department and/or taken by HR?

The progressive discipline steps outlined above are not a “formula.” A variety of factors can influence the level of disciplinary action proposed and/or taken. Some of those factors include:

  • Severity of the misconduct;
  • Consequences of the misconduct;
  • Frequency of the misconduct;
  • Work and disciplinary history of the employee;
  • Mitigating circumstances.

How does a department recommend disciplinary action for an employee based on conduct?

If a department recommends a suspension, demotion or dismissal based on conduct, the department must:

  • Submit to HR a Request for Disciplinary Action (P-14) form. The recommendation must be reviewed with and approved by the supervisor and the Dean, Director or Chairperson of the department.
  • Supporting documentation must be provided with the Request for Disciplinary Action form, including copies of any previous counseling, suspensions, etc.

How does HR act on a recommended disciplinary action and how is an employee notified about disciplinary action based on misconduct?

If a department has recommended suspension, demotion or dismissal based on misconduct, HR takes the following steps:

  • HR reviews the recommendation (Request for Disciplinary Action, P-14 form) and supporting documentation to determine if disciplinary action should be proposed.
  • If warranted, HR writes a proposal letter to the employee, outlining the reason for the action and the proposed effective date of the action.
  • The letter is hand-delivered by a departmental staff member or sent by certified mail to the employee.
  • The letter also specifies a deadline by which the employee can meet with HR staff for the employee to describe his/her view of the proposed action.
  • The employee may meet with HR, may have a representative when meeting with HR, or may choose not to meet with HR. If accompanied by a representative, HR should be notified in advance.

What happens after the meeting with HR staff?

  • HR staff make a final determination about whether or not the proposed disciplinary action should be taken.
  • HR writes a final letter to the employee notifying him/her of that determination.
  • The letter is hand-delivered by a departmental staff member or sent by certified mail to the employee.
  • If disciplinary action is taken for a regular status employee, the final letter also notifies the employee how to appeal to the University’s Disciplinary Action Hearing Board.

How is a Disciplinary Action Hearing Board hearing conducted?

The Disciplinary Action Hearing Board (referred to hereafter as the Board) is a panel of faculty and staff nominated by their respective governance organizations and appointed by the Provost. The Board chairperson conducts the hearing, and the University Governance Office provides staffing for the activities of the Board. The hearings are always held on campus and are somewhat similar to a courtroom hearing. All those testifying are sworn in, and a tape recording is made of the hearing. An attorney represents the University. The employee appealing the disciplinary action may be represented by an attorney or may represent him/herself. It is the employee’s responsibility, i.e. burden of proof, to demonstrate that the University acted inappropriately. Each party is allowed to present written materials submitted in advance of the hearing to all parties. Witnesses may be asked to testify. Cross-examination is allowed, as are opening and closing statements. The Board recommends to the Provost that he/she rescind, sustain, or modify the action of the University. The Board may render a recommendation at the hearing or may choose to render its recommendation at later date. A formal written recommendation is provided to the Provost and to all parties of the appeal after the hearing. The guidelines for the Board are available by reviewing the Disciplinary Action Hearing Board for University Support Staff Guidelines.

Does termination for misconduct affect eligibility for unemployment compensation?

The Kansas Department of Labor, Unemployment Claims Office determines the eligibility for unemployment compensation, not the University.

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