Progressive Discipline (PD) incorporates a sequence of steps intended to help supervisors and staff members overcome work-related shortcoming, strengthen job performance, and maintain a successful employment relationship. PD suggests that actions to modify behavior become progressively more severe as the employee continues to show improper behavior.
At the discretion of the University, employees may be given opportunities and help, as appropriate, to correct deficiencies before being dismissed or otherwise disciplined. Following the progressive sequence ensures that both the nature and the seriousness of the problem have been clearly communicated to the employee. Not all steps in the PD procedure have to be followed in every case. The idea is to impress on the offender the seriousness of the problem and the determination to see that the behavior is changed.
Progressive Discipline is not applicable in every instance where disciplinary action is warranted. Certain conduct and the violation of some rules are so extreme that outright discharge is the only reasonable remedy. For example, actions that involve dishonesty, physical, verbal, sexual and/or harassment of students/staff members/faculty members, violation of the law, or material risks to University operations or to the safety or well being of oneself or others are grounds for immediate termination of employment. These violations include, but are not limited to, theft, intoxication, providing alcohol to a minor, inappropriate behavior with a minor, willful destruction of university property, threatening or striking another person on University time or premises, dishonesty or falsification, violation of harassment policies, and unauthorized possession of firearms on campus.
STEP ONE: VERBAL CAUTION
The immediate supervisor should meet informally with the staff member to discuss the problem, the seriousness and actions needed to constructively correct the violation(s). A summary of the verbal caution should be documented and a copy provided to the staff member. Documentation of the Verbal Caution should be maintained in the Departmental File.
STEP TWO: WRITTEN REPRIMAND
If performance or conduct does not improve to an acceptable level within the time frame established in the Verbal Caution or if additional performance or conduct concerns arise a Written Reprimand should be initiated. This formalizes a discussion between the immediate supervisor and a behavior that is inconsistent with the University policies and/or expectations. If requested by the immediate supervisor, his/her superior may be present during this formal discussion.
A copy of the written reprimand must be given to the staff member and he/she will sign, as an acknowledgment that they received a copy. At this time the staff member will be placed on probation and the written reprimand documentation, and the verbal caution documentation forwarded to the Human Resource Office to be retained in the staff member's personnel file.
The staff member will be instructed that he/she has five working days to submit a written response, if they so desire, to be placed in the personnel file. If performance or conduct improves to an acceptable level and the problem does not recur for three months, and no other performance or conduct actions are required during that time, the matter should be considered resolved and the probation suspended. Documentation of such suspension of probation will be placed in the personnel file and a copy given to the staff member. The Written Reprimand will remain in the personnel file.
STEP THREE: FINAL WARNING
If performance or conduct does not improve to an acceptable level within the time frame established in the Written Reprimand or if additional or serious performance or conduct concerns arise a Final Warning will be given. A formal meeting will be held with the staff member, his/her immediate supervisor, and or the superior within the structure line/chain of command and the Director of Human Resources, if necessary. Documentation of the Final Warning, and any additional attachments, should state how the staff member continues to fall short of expectations, what must be accomplished in order to meet expectations, and the time frame for achieving expectations. It should document the fact that failing to reach the necessary level of performance or conduct within the established time frame may result in discharge.
The staff member should receive a copy of the Final Warning Documentation and should sign as acknowledgment of receipt. At this time the staff member will be placed on probation and the Final Warning documentation forwarded to the Human Resource Office to be retained in the staff member's personnel file.
If performance or conduct improves to an acceptable level and the problem does not recur for six months, and if no other performance or conduct-related actions are required during that time, the matter should be considered resolved. Documentation of such suspension of probation will be placed in the personnel file and a copy given to the staff member. The Final Warning will remain in the personnel file.
STEP FOUR: DISCHARGE
If performance or conduct does not improve to an acceptable level within the time frame established in the Final Warning or if additional or serious performance or conduct concerns arise discharge action may be taken.
Documentation will be submitted to the Director of Human Resource for termination request. The President of the University, upon review of the staff member's personnel file, will make the final decision as to the discharge.
The discharge as approved by the President of the University will be documented for the staff member's personnel file and a letter of termination will be given to the member at the time of discharge. In the event that the member is not available to receive the termination letter, the Director of Human Resource will send notification via certified mail the letter to the last known address. The discharge will be effective immediately.
If the President of the University deems the necessity, a Termination Review Panel will be formed. Members of this panel will include the President, the Director of Human Resources and three additional employees of Cumberland University, who have no direct authority over the staff member.