Disciplinary Action Procedures for University Support Staff
Revised December 1, 2014
Table of Contents
Kansas State University is committed to providing a positive, supportive, and harmonious work environment where university support staff (USS) can perform to their best ability. Kansas State recognizes also that there are times when disciplinary action is necessary. First, it is important that performance and discipline problems be settled at the earliest stage possible through timely and appropriate verbal and written counseling by the employee's immediate supervisor. If, however, these departmental level actions do not correct the situation, the guidelines in this policy address formal disciplinary measures for USS employees who violate policies, fail to perform work satisfactorily or behave in a manner detrimental to the university.
Consider Prior to Taking Disciplinary Action
• Did the employee clearly understand the rule or policy that was violated?
• Did the employee know in advance that such conduct would be subject to disciplinary action? (dependent upon conduct)
• Was the rule violated reasonably related to the safe, efficient and orderly operation of the organization's business?
• Is there substantial evidence that the employee actually did violate the rule?
• Is the action planned reasonably related to the seriousness of the offense, the employee's record with the organization, and to action taken with other employees who have committed a similar offense?
- PERSONAL CONDUCT. Grounds for decision-making leave (suspension with pay), demotion, or dismissal of a permanent USS employee for personal conduct detrimental to university service include, but are not limited to, the following:
- gross misconduct or conduct grossly unbecoming a university employee
- conviction of a criminal act
- immoral conduct
- willful abuse or misappropriation of university funds, materials, property, or equipment
- making a false statement of material fact in the employee's application for employment or position description
- participation in any action that would in any way seriously disrupt or disturb the normal operation of the department or university
- trespassing on the property of any university official or employee for the purpose of harassing or forcing dialogue or discussion from the occupants or owners of such property
- willful damage to or destruction of university property
- willful endangerment of the lives or property of others, or both
- possession of unauthorized firearms or other lethal weapons while on the job
- performing duties in a brutal manner, or mistreating, neglecting, or abusing a patient, resident, or other person in the employee's care
- refusal to accept a reasonable and proper assignment from an authorized supervisor (insubordination)
- being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on the job
- knowingly releasing confidential information from official records
- use of the employee's university position, use of the employee's time on the job, or use of university property or facilities by the employee in connection with a political campaign
- exhibiting other personal conduct detrimental to university service which could cause undue disruption of work or endanger the safety or property of others, as may be determined by the Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations
- gross carelessness or gross negligence
- grossly improper use of university property
- sexual harassment arising out of or in connection with employment
- WORK PERFORMANCE. Grounds for decision-making leave (suspension with pay), dismissal or demotion, of a permanent employee for deficiencies in work performance include, but are not limited to, the following:
- inefficiency or incompetence in the performance of duties or inability to perform the duties
- negligence in the performance of duties
- careless, negligent, or improper use of university property
- failure to maintain satisfactory and harmonious relationships with the public and fellow employees
- habitual or flagrantly improper use of leave privileges
- a habitual pattern of failure to report for duty at the assigned time and place or to remain on duty
- failure to obtain or maintain a current license or certificate or other authorization required to practice a trade, conduct a business, or practice a profession.
When addressing deficiencies in work performance, please refer to Chapter 4080, "Performance Management Process," for full discussion of evaluation methods.
Prior disciplinary actions of a year or more past will not ordinarily be included in current requests for disciplinary procedures.
Nothing in these procedures prevents a department from immediately requesting a decision-making leave (suspension with pay), demotion, or dismissal of an employee for actions warranting such a measure.
- DISCIPLINARY ACTION
- Oral Reminder (Department level)
- In preparation, the immediate supervisor should gather information, observe the situation first-hand when possible, and plan a meeting designed to help the employee recognize the problem.
- During that private conference, the supervisor should avoid the role of adversary, trying instead to guide the employee as follows:
- State the problem clearly.
- Identify the changes that are expected.
- Ask for and listen to the employee's point of view.
- Encourage the employee to offer solutions.
- Reach agreement on actions that will be taken and a timetable for that action.
- Immediately after the meeting, the supervisor should document the discussion and the resulting agreement using the Employee Conference Form or in a memo to the employee, a copy of which may be retained in the supervisor's working file rather than a personnel file. The employee should be informed that such a notation is being made.
- Written Reminder (Department level)
- If the problem continues, the supervisor should send the employee a copy of the above memo or form with a cover note stating that the problem has not been resolved and that a second conference is necessary.
- During the second counseling session, the supervisor should continue to pursue a problem-solving approach, rather than a punitive one. The objective is to prevent recurring problems, not to punish for prior wrongdoing. A problem-solving approach, however, does not prevent a supervisor from expressing concern over an employee's continued unacceptable behavior. Each of the points to be included in the written notification, as outlined below in 2(c), should be covered orally during the meeting.
- Following that meeting, the supervisor should provide the employee written notification that includes the following:
- A statement that this is a written reminder
- A clear, objective statement of the problem
- The desired changes not made to date
- An additional opportunity to correct the problem and the time period
- An offer of assistance as their supervisor
- Disciplinary consequences if the problem is not corrected.
- The employee's signature is requested to acknowledge receipt, not necessarily agreement; one copy of the notification is given to the employee and one copy is placed in the department's personnel file.
- Suspension with Pay (Decision-Making Leave)
- The purpose of a decision-making leave day is to provide an employee with some critical thinking time. During this paid leave, an employee must decide whether he or she wishes to continue employment with K-State and, if so, what positive steps the employee will take to correct past deficiencies.
- A department requesting a decision-making leave day for an employee shall contact the Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations in writing, outlining a) previous counseling sessions, b) verbal and written reminders, and c) the problems that continue. If approved, the Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations will notify the employee in writing of the date for the decision-making leave as well as when, where, and to whom the employee should report upon return from leave.
- The employee may appeal the decision to the Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations to request an appeal hearing by the K-State University Support Staff Peer Review Committee (PRC). An employee seeking a meeting to discuss the disciplinary action may be accompanied by an advocate.
- Immediately upon return from a decision-making leave day, the employee must meet with the Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations (or his/her designee) to discuss the employee's decision. If the employee elects to remain at K-State, he or she will be advised as follows:
- Immediately correct the problem situation; maintain fully acceptable performance and conduct in every area of your job, whether immediately related to the current problem or not. Any further problems that require disciplinary action may result in your dismissal.
- Demotion or Dismissal
- Departments requesting demotion or dismissal of an employee must request the action in writing to the Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations. The letter should include why the action is being requested, what prior steps were taken to correct the situation, and any other pertinent documentation and information. The Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations will review the request and notify the department of the decision.
- Employees have full rights of appeal for demotion and dismissal actions. See PPM, Chapter 4035, Disciplinary Action Appeals Board for University Support Staff.
An employee may appeal a decision-making leave (suspension with pay) to the Human Capital Services, Director of Employee Relations for a hearing by the University Support Staff Peer Review Committee. An employee who is demoted or dismissed has the right to request a hearing before the Appeals Board for University Support Staff to determine the reasonableness of such action.
Questions regarding disciplinary policies and procedures and strategies for dealing with conduct or behavior detrimental to the University should be directed to the Human Capital Services at (785) 532-6277.
- Oral Reminder (Department level)