Policy 3.228 Human Resources
Date Adopted/Most Recent Revision: 05/14/2010


A.       General

Midwestern State University is an at-will employer and retains the right to terminate the employment of any regular staff member with or without cause at any time. The University also supports a program of progressive discipline whereby employees are given opportunities to correct misconduct and/or improve individual performance. Except in cases of gross misconduct, termination should be used only as the last step in a progressive series of administrative disciplinary actions.


B.       Definitions


1.       Gross Misconduct

        Gross misconduct involves those actions that represent serious violations of university policy or state or federal law. Examples include, but are not limited to, flagrant insubordination; drug use or intoxication on the job; violence against co-workers, students or others; theft, fraud or embezzlement; deliberate falsification of official documents; intentional misuse of computer systems; disclosure of  confidential information; sexual misconduct; or other actions of a blatantly irresponsible, dangerous or criminal nature. Acts of gross misconduct warrant immediate suspension or termination.


2.       Misconduct

        Misconduct involves those actions that represent minor violations of university policy or state or federal law. Examples include, but are not limited to, substandard performance; failure to comply fully with appropriate, legal directives; excessive absenteeism; minor safety violations; unintentional misuse of university or state property; inadvertent breach of computer network system security by responding to requests for secure passwords; or other actions of a non-criminal or non-violent nature.


C.      Disciplinary Actions

Ideally, the normal progression of disciplinary action is described below; however, depending upon the nature of the misconduct, action may be taken at any point in the process.


1.       Discussion of Problem

        When an act of minor misconduct is observed by a supervisor, the supervisor should discuss the problem with the employee in a calm and reasonable manner with the goal of improving performance, not punishing or chastising the employee. The problem should be promptly and clearly identified and a course of corrective action prescribed.


2.       Verbal Warning

        If the problem persists, the employee should be verbally warned that the misconduct has not been corrected and that more stringent disciplinary action may be imposed if it continues.  Supervisors should maintain a written log to document verbal warnings and the dates they are issued.


3.       Written Warning Signed By The Employee

        If the problem still persists, the employee should be given a written warning clearly stating that his/her conduct is unacceptable and that his/her job will be in jeopardy if the conduct continues. The warning should identify specific steps the employee must take to raise his/her performance to an acceptable level. The employee should be asked to sign the warning, which should then be sent to the Human Resources Department for inclusion in the employee's permanent personnel file. If the employee refuses to sign the warning, the supervisor should make the appropriate notation.


4.       Suspension/Administrative Leave

        If a supervisor believes that placing an employee on suspension or leave without pay for a specified period of time as a punitive measure will improve that employee's performance, he/she may do so with the approval of the President; however, such suspensions should be used only after other measures have failed or in extreme cases when allowing an employee to remain on the job would be imprudent. If the President is not available to approve a suspension, then the supervisor may, with approval of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or appropriate Vice President and the Human Resources Department, suspend the employee until the President can be consulted.


5.       Termination (Also see Policy 3.216)

        If the unacceptable behavior continues after an employee has been counseled and appropriately warned or if the misconduct is of an extreme nature, the employee may be terminated with prior approval of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs or appropriate Vice President and after consultation with the Director of Human Resources.  If the immediate supervisor feels it is improper to leave the employee on duty until such approval can be obtained, the employee may be placed on suspension.


D.      Review

All disciplinary actions involving suspension or termination must be reviewed by the Director of Human Resources/Equal Employment Opportunity Officer to determine if appropriate procedures were followed, that there was sufficient documentation to justify the action, and that there is no evidence of a pattern of intentional or unintentional discrimination.