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Progressive Disciplinary Action

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Policy Information
  • Issue Date: June 1, 1988
  • Revision Date: October 8, 2015
  • Primary Contact: Director of Human Resources and EEO Officer
  • Senior Administration: President and Director
  • Responsible Office: Human Resources
Policy Information


I. Whenever an employee demonstrates unsatisfactory performance or behaves in a manner that may negatively affect the operations of the department or the Institution, the supervisor is expected to address these issues promptly. Avoiding or delaying taking corrective action amounts to supervisory neglect, can undermine management effectiveness and may result in a disservice to the employee and the Institution.  The Institution aspires to utilize progressive disciplinary action where appropriate and in the best interests of the Institution in the discretion of its management in order to provide clear communications of the Institution’s expectations, provide opportunities for employees to improve their job performance and avoid the costs associated with the termination of employment if possible.  However, nothing in this policy alters the at-will nature of employment, nor are any particular steps or number of steps required to be taken prior to or in lieu of the termination of employment.  Whether progressive discipline should be utilized in lieu of immediate termination and what steps, the number of that should be taken and in what order is to be determined in the discretion of Institution management on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the Human Resources Department.

II. One tool in the progressive discipline process is for the supervisor to have informal discussions about  the perceived problem directly with the employee. These informal discussions may consist of in person conversations, performance coaching sessions, e-mails or other communications. Such discussions may cover the following topics, as applicable:

  1. identification of the problem and its apparent causes;
  2. the employee's role in solving the problem;
  3. specific actions to be taken by the employee and the supervisor;
  4. a timetable for assessing progress;
  5. specific disciplinary action that may result should progress not be evident. (Such actions must be reviewed with the Department Chair/Administrative Manager and the Director of Human Resources prior to any notification to the employee.)

III. If these steps are followed by the supervisor and the employee, further action may or may not be necessary.

IV .Even though a performance counseling discussion may not result in issuance of a written warning to the employee, the supervisor should still keep a record of all informal discussions with the employee that may be placed in the employee’s personnel record. These records may include, but not be limited to:

  1. the date the conversation took place;
  2. the nature of the problem;
  3. the corrective action agreed to by the employee and the supervisor;
  4. the date follow-up action and/or progress report is scheduled.
  5. potential disciplinary action that may result should employee performance not improve

V. When a situation becomes chronic and/or is more serious, the supervisor may consider more formal disciplinary action. Such actions may include additional documented meetings with the employee addressing the performance inadequacies that result in the issuance of a formal written warning to the employee, Such written warnings may also include the imposition of a probationary period, suspension with or without pay, or involuntary termination. Copies of all written materials relating to these more formal disciplinary steps shall be given to the employee and retained in the employee's personnel file. There may be instances in which the supervisor, in consultation with the Human Resources Department, determines that immediate termination of employment is warranted based on the nature of the performance issues and the circumstances presented without issuing written discipline or warnings to the employee.

VI. Supervisors should contact the Human Resources Department for assistance prior to proceeding with any formal disciplinary action and all termination decisions must be approved by the Human Resources Department.  Supervisors should make the Human Resources Department aware of ongoing disciplinary discussions with employees and should provide copies of any employee counseling or disciplinary documents so that these records can be retained in the employee’s personnel record.

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Last updated: March 16, 2017

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