5.19 Disciplinary Action

Origination date: 10/1/93
Revised: 1/1/2000
Applicability: Classified Staff

Purpose

The purpose of disciplinary action is to communicate and document performance concerns or policy violations in an effort to correct performance or discipline employees if performance is not corrected and sustained.

Disciplinary Action

Employees are disciplined in accordance with provisions of this policy without discrimination because of sex, race, color, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status as specified in the University's Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.

An employee is required to abide by the established rules and policies of his/her department, the university, and the Arizona Board of Regents.

Since the university emphasizes the constructive aspect of disciplinary procedures, in most circumstances a department head should develop clear and reasonable departmental policies and performance expectations.  The appropriate supervisor should advise an employee on any aspect of work performance that fails to meet standards and provide an opportunity for improvement. With the exception of gross misconduct, a department head will initiate a disciplinary action only after having previously addressed performance concerns with the employee and findings that performance remains unsatisfactory. Accordingly, such a supervisory action should be appropriate to the seriousness of the infraction or performance deficiency.  A department head is authorized to take actions, including reprimand, suspension, demotion, administrative leave (for investigative purposes), or termination of employment, subject to the guidelines of this policy.  Particular circumstances may, in some cases, require that disciplinary actions be tempered or expanded because of the facts of the situation.

Violations of university rules against discrimination and sexual harassment, the Classified Staff Policies and Procedures, or other Arizona Board of Regents, university and/or departmental rules or policies may result in specific disciplinary measures, including dismissal.

Progressive Discipline Philosophy

The university supports the practice of progressive discipline for most infractions or performance concerns.

Progressive discipline is a series of disciplinary actions that are corrective in nature and are taken to provide regular employees the opportunity to improve job performance and/or comply with departmental and university policies.  Such actions range from providing performance feedback to termination when deemed appropriate by the department head. Termination must be with the concurrence of the Chief Human Resources Officer.  It is recognized that certain infractions may warrant the imposition of serious disciplinary measures, including termination, without prior discipline having been imposed.

Performance Feedback

An individual discussion is used to assist the employee to improve work performance or comply with policies and procedures.  Discussions should be a cooperative attempt at identifying and correcting performance.  Department heads should keep notes of such discussions.

Administrative Leave

Administrative Leave is not a disciplinary action. It allows for investigation of an infraction(s) of Arizona Board of Regents, university, and/or departmental rules or policies or poor performance.  Upon completion of the investigation, the employee may be returned to work without penalty, or may receive disciplinary action.  Administrative Leave should not exceed thirty calendar days without the approval of the Chief Human Resources Officer.  An employee's pay and benefits continue during this leave. This action is not subject to the grievance policy.

Written Warning

A written warning is used for failure to meet job requirements or violations of rules and/or policies, or when performance feedback has not produced satisfactory results. Written warnings shall specify the performance concerns and what action is required to correct them.

A written warning shall explicitly state that it is a "written warning" and the department head will provide a copy to the employee and retain a copy in the department file. This letter will not become part of the employee’s official employment file maintained by the Human Resources Department. A warning is not subject to the grievance procedure by an employee, since no punitive action has been taken.

Pre-Disciplinary Conference

A pre-disciplinary conference is a meeting in which the supervisor informs the employee of possible disciplinary action, considers the employee’s input about performance and possible disciplinary action and renders a decision to the employee verbally and in writing.

Prior to grievable disciplinary actions occurring, the supervisor must consult with a Human Resources Department representative. The employee or supervisor may request the presence of a Human Resources Department representative at the pre-disciplinary conference. During this meeting the disciplinary action being considered as well as the basis for that action will be provided. The employee will have an opportunity to share information that may impact the decision. The completed pre-disciplinary conference form should be forwarded to the Human Resources Department, with a copy maintained by the supervisor and employee.

Disciplinary Actions

This section describes the types of disciplinary actions that may be used in dealing with unsatisfactory behavior or performance deficiencies.  It is possible, in certain situations, to apply more than one form of disciplinary action at a time.  Supervisors or department heads will consult with the Human Resources Department prior to holding a pre-disciplinary conference and taking disciplinary action.

In initiating any disciplinary action, the supervisor will give the employee a written memorandum containing the following information: 

  • specific nature of deficiencies,
  • corrective action required,
  • the fact that more severe disciplinary action will be taken (including termination) if the employee does not correct the behavior, and
  • the employee's right to appeal the action by initiating a grievance as outlined in the Grievance Procedure of this manual (if applicable). 

A copy of this memorandum shall also be forwarded to the Human Resources Department for placement in the employee’s official personnel file.

Types of Disciplinary Action

Letter of Reprimand: A letter of reprimand is the least severe form of disciplinary action and is typically given after a written warning or other performance feedback has failed.  It may be appropriate to use this form of discipline without prior warnings in certain circumstances.  A letter of reprimand is differentiated from a letter of warning in that a copy of the reprimand is placed in the employee's official personnel record in the Human Resources Department and it is subject to the informal, but not the formal, grievance process.  Refer to Policy 5.21 Grievance Procedures.

Disciplinary Suspension

Disciplinary suspension is the temporary release of an employee from duty.  It is applicable when a violation(s) or repetition of violation(s) of applicable rules or policies are serious enough to warrant suspension

A disciplinary suspension should be applied in direct proportion to the significance of the offense but shall not exceed thirty calendar days.  An employee does not receive pay for periods of disciplinary suspension; however, benefit programs continue in force. This action is subject to the grievance policy.

Demotion (Involuntary): An employee may be re-assigned to a lower position at a lower grade as the result of disciplinary action.  Refer to Pay Changes for determination of the new pay rate in the event of a demotion.  This action is subject to the grievance policy.

Dismissal:  The most serious form of discipline is dismissal, the involuntary termination of employment.  Prior to making a final decision to dismiss an employee, the department head must have concurrence of the Chief Human Resources Officer.  This action is subject to the grievance policy.  Refer to Termination for information regarding termination policy and procedures.