Formal Corrective Action Guidelines/Non-Faculty Employees


The purpose of these guidelines is to state the position of the University relative to the
administration of discipline/corrective action in an equitable and consistent manner. Although
support employees and administrative/professional employees covered by these guidelines are
considered "at will" employees, meaning that they can be terminated for a non-discriminatory
reason, or no reason at all, it is in the best interest of the University to ensure fair treatment of all
employees and make certain that discipline is handled in a timely fashion and in a fair uniform
In order to respect both the rights of employees and of the University, it is important that all
Deans, Directors, Department Heads, Managers and Supervisors provide adequate
documentation of the disciplinary and termination process when an employee is discharged for

General Guidelines:

1. The intent for the disciplinary process is to improve employee performance or eliminate
misconduct or rule violations, i.e. conduct issue versus skill deficiency and performance

2. For the most effective use of the disciplinary action, it is necessary that supervisory
employees be familiar with University policies and department regulations so that
infractions are quickly and accurately identified.

3. In order to eliminate unintentional poor performance and misconduct, supervisors must
educate their employees concerning policy, procedures, and job expectations. A
supervisor must also be willing to discuss situations or events which may, if not
corrected, eventually lead to on-the-job problems.

4. The supervisor must consider the nature and seriousness of the infraction, all relevant
facts and information, and any mitigating circumstances. Good judgment must be used in
determining the degree of disciplinary action taken in each case and must be nondiscriminatory
in the administration of these guidelines.

5. Generally, there are four types of formal corrective action which may be applied. These
include verbal warning, written warning, suspension, and dismissal. However, not all
performance or conduct problems lend themselves to these progressive steps. There are
times when immediate and serious disciplinary action, including suspension or dismissal,
is warranted. Application of these actions will depend upon the nature and severity of the
problem. Any of the disciplinary actions may be taken without regard to prior problems
or prior discipline.

6. Before administering formal corrective action, the supervisor is responsible for
conducting a thorough investigation.

7. If after a thorough investigation the supervisor believes that any action taken beyond
informal counseling is warranted, it is the duty of the immediate Supervisor to initiate
disciplinary action and/or advise the Dean, Director, or Senior Department Head of the
possible need for such action. When any type of formal corrective action is being
considered, the Office of Human Resource Management should be contacted to ensure
appropriate applicability, documentation, and procedure is followed. Within each
department the authority and approval levels for this process must be established and

8. It is the supervisor's responsibility to ensure that all University policies and department
regulations are enforced uniformly and fairly. Inconsistent or unfair treatment will
undermine the entire process.

9. In some situations, poor performance, i.e. a skill deficiency may not be considered willful
but must still be addressed. The steps taken could be comparable to steps described
herein. The intent of the discipline would be to document the substandard performance
but should also include steps taken to help the employee improve their performance.
This could include: a training class to improve technical skills, reviewing expectations
with supervisor, reference materials, scheduling regular meetings to check in on progress,
etc. The purpose would be to help the employee improve performance so they can
remain in the position. However, it the employee cannot successfully perform in the
position regardless of their effort, termination may be necessary.

Explanation of the various types of formal corrective action:

1. Verbal Warning

A verbal warning may be given in cases where a departure from established work routines
occurs without sufficient justification. Although this is considered a departmental matter, the
supervisor should document the department file. The "note to file" should include
employee's name, date of occurrence, issue discussed, and recommended actions.

2. Written Warning

A written warning is a formal statement, which becomes part of the employee's permanent
personnel file. Examples of problems which may result in a written reprimand include, but
are not limited to: serious disruptions in the workplace, sick time abuse, unproductive work
behavior, failure to follow proper work routine or business practice, repeated actions not
corrected by verbal warnings, or where infractions could lead to suspension or dismissal if

3. Suspension

An employee may be required to remain off the job in a pay or non-pay situation for a
specified period of time for disciplinary purposes, following verbal and written warnings, and
without warning for more serious initial offenses. Immediate suspension may be in order if:
a. Circumstances make attendance at work dangerous to the employee or others.
b. When time for an investigation is needed.
c. When circumstances seriously impair the employee's effectiveness on the job.
d. When prior warnings have not had the desired impact to correct the negative

4. Other Types of Corrective Action

Formal corrective action may also include demotion, salary reduction, reassignment to
another position within the supervisor's area of responsibility, etc. Application of these
actions will depend upon the nature and severity of the problem and is not appropriate for all

5. Discharge

The decision to discharge employees should be made in conjunction with the Dean, Director,
or appropriate Senior Department Head, Division Head and the Office of Human Resource
Management. This policy helps to ensure that all established policies and procedures have
been followed and that the decision to terminate an employee is, in fact, the proper decision
and consistent with past practice.
a. Discharge may be a result of one serious event, such as: insubordination, defiance of
authority, theft, intoxication, act of aggression or violence, or any other willful act of
misconduct or violation of the University's Mission Statement. This list is not all
inclusive and is only intended as examples.
b. The employee must understand exactly why they are being terminated. It is best
communicated in a letter, which should be presented to the individual in a formal,
private meeting. The supervisor should have another senior member in the chain of
command present during the termination meeting.
c. In the event of a serious incident, without any solid facts or information, it is
advisable to suspend the employee pending a thorough investigation. If it is obvious
that an event deserving discharge occurred, but with possible mitigating
circumstances, it is advisable to suspend with intent to discharge.

Writing the Notice of Discipline:

The notice of discipline should be clear and concise. The statement should include:
a. Statement of violation of poor performance.
b. Relevant history.
c. Disciplinary measure.
d. Expected change in performance or behavior. (Written Warning and Suspension.)
e. Consequences of not meeting the expectations. (Written Warning and Suspension.)

Caution: Try to be as specific and factual in your written documentation. Avoid extraneous
issues and opinions not substantiated by facts of evidence. Written documents generally are
subject to review by a third party (discipline committee, arbitrator, lawyers, etc.), and
information that is not relevant, fact-based or whitewashes the real issues will destroy credibility
of the document.

The original copy of the written warning or letter of suspension is given to the employee. A copy
should remain in the department and copies should be sent to the Division Head and the Office
of Human Resource Management for the employee's personnel file.

Issuing the Disciplinary/Corrective Action Notice:

1. Select an appropriate time and place to present the disciplinary notice in person.
2. Be objective, tactful, and thorough.
3. If employee protests that the action is unfair, remind the individual of the appropriate
processes available within the University. (See The Administrative Policy No. 30:
Affirmative Action, Equal Education and Employment Opportunity, and Human
Relations in the Workplace and Classroom.)

Administrative Leave:

If the situation warrants, the supervisor may give consideration to the appropriateness of
Administrative Leave, non-disciplinary time-off with pay. Administrative Leave is usually issued
when time is needed to investigate a situation to ensure proper action is taken and when it is
inappropriate and impractical for the employee to remain at work.

HR Consultation / Documenting Discipline Tutorial DVD:

The Office of Human Resource Management is available for consultation and providing
assistance through this process. Additional training resources are available upon request,
including a copy of the Documenting Discipline DVD. The DVD will illustrate a step-by step
approach to documenting employee issues and writing formal letters of discipline.

Download pdf version