Policy Number: 187
Discipline and Dismissal of Classified Employees
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("university") encourages fair, efficient and equitable solutions for problems arising out of the employment relationship and to meet the requirements of state and federal law.
The purpose of this policy is to provide a procedure for the discipline and dismissal of classified employees who are subject to its provisions. Classified employees are at-will employees who serve without tenure. No provision of the policy and procedures that follows shall confer rights to employees that are contrary to the employment-at-will doctrine.
The policy and procedures described herein apply to conduct or job performance of a classified employee that results in a management decision to impose a formal disciplinary action. A formal disciplinary action is either demotion, suspension without pay for a period not to exceed 30 calendar days, or termination of employment.
Reprimands (written or verbal), performance coaching, or other typical employee-employer interactions that may be of a disciplinary nature are not regarded as formal disciplinary actions. Supervisors are expected to take these types of actions when and if they feel such actions are appropriate. Such actions should be documented in an employee's departmental file. These types of supervisory actions may be grieved by the employee through the grievance procedure stated in HOOP Policy 146 Grievances.
The formal disciplinary actions described herein are those appropriate for significant performance and/or conduct problems. Supervisors are expected to impose these disciplinary actions for poor work performance and/or unacceptable behavior. These actions must be documented in an employee's official personnel file. Demotions, suspensions without pay and terminations may be appealed by the employee within the provisions of this policy.
The policy and procedures described herein do not apply to UT Police classified employees; to employees being separated from the university due to a reduction in force; to employees suspended with pay pending an investigation; to employees who have not successfully completed the probationary period; to non-benefits eligible classified employees; to administrative and professional employees; to persons who are employed in positions that require student status as a condition of employment; to the dismissal of persons who occupy positions dependent upon funding from a specific source and such funding is not received; to the dismissal of persons who are dismissed due to financial exigency; to the dismissal of persons who are appointed for a stated period that is less than 180 days; to the dismissal of persons who are appointed at a per diem or hourly rate and work on an as needed basis; to the dismissal of persons who have not attained or maintained the necessary clearance, certification or licensure for their position; or, to the dismissal of persons who have exhausted applicable leave entitlements.
Suspension with pay may be imposed at the discretion of the supervisor in consultation with the Office of Human Resources when in the best interest of the university including removing an employee from the premises pending an investigation of the employee's conduct or in the event that an employee's behavior poses an immediate threat to himself, other employees or university property. Formal disciplinary actions will be reviewed by Human Resources for compliance with equal opportunity criteria.
A. Employee Responsibilities
1. Work Performance
Employees must become familiar with and abide by the performance criteria for their jobs and with all rules, procedures and standards of conduct established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System, the university and their departments. Any employee who does not fulfill the responsibilities set out by such work performance criteria, rules, procedures and standards of conduct may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Failure of an employee to maintain satisfactory work performance standards can constitute good cause for disciplinary action including termination. Work performance includes all aspects of an employee's work. Work performance is judged by the supervisor; work performance that is below the supervisor's standards will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.
All employees are expected to maintain standards of conduct suitable and acceptable in the work environment. Disciplinary action including dismissal may be imposed for unacceptable conduct. Examples of unacceptable conduct that may result in disciplinary action are listed in Appendix A.
B. Discipline Procedures
Once a supervisor has determined that demotion, suspension without pay or termination is an appropriate disciplinary action to impose on an employee because of his or her unacceptable conduct or work performance, the supervisor should obtain the Notice of Disciplinary Action form from Human Resources and complete it. Completion of this document will assist the supervisor in fully documenting the alleged poor work performance and/or misconduct, the reasons for the disciplinary action being proposed, and/or the specific policies or procedures that may have been violated. This document will also assist the supervisor in preparing for the pre-disciplinary meeting.
The supervisor will inform the employee in person and/or in writing of the reasons for the action, the relevant facts of the situation, the names of any persons who have made statements about the situation and the content of such statements. The employee shall be provided with an opportunity to respond to the charges either verbally or in writing within a reasonable time not to exceed 2 working days before a final decision is made to take disciplinary action. The pre-disciplinary notification serves as an opportunity to avoid mistaken decisions to impose discipline and is not intended to definitively resolve the propriety of the disciplinary action being considered.
After review of the employee's response, the supervisor may proceed to impose the disciplinary action if, in his or her judgment, it is appropriate. The supervisor shall give the employee a copy of the completed Notice of Disciplinary Action, which will serve as formal notification of demotion, suspension without pay or termination. The supervisor must also inform the employee of the right to appeal the demotion, suspension without pay or termination and provide the employee with a copy of this policy.
C. Effect Upon Employee Benefits
An employee who is suspended without pay will continue to accrue vacation and sick leave, to be covered by group insurances, and to be entitled to other employee benefit programs in accordance with university policy. If the demotion or suspension without pay is overturned upon appeal, the employee will be entitled to payment of wages lost as a result of the demotion or suspension without pay. Additionally, in the case of the overturn of a demotion, the employee will be returned to work to his or her former position. An employee who is terminated will not continue to accrue vacation and sick leave, to be covered by group insurances, or to be entitled to other employee benefit programs. If the termination is appealed and overturned, the employee will be reinstated to his or her position and be entitled to payment of wages lost as a result of the termination (less any unemployment compensation received by the employee after termination). Employee benefits such as vacation and sick leave will be credited back to the date of termination.
D. Procedure for Appeal
Demotion, suspensions without pay and terminations may be appealed by the affected employee pursuant to the process set out below by submitting a written request for a hearing to the dean or administrative equivalent. The request must be made within 5 working days following the date of the disciplinary action. The dean or administrative equivalent must consult with Human Resources -Employee Relations regarding the appeal process. If the dean or administrative equivalent made the decision regarding the disciplinary action, the appeal shall be filed with the Executive Vice President, Chief Operating and Financial Officer.
The dean or administrative equivalent shall, at his or her discretion, either hear the appeal in person or appoint a delegate(s) to hear the appeal. The hearing shall be conducted as soon as is practical, but not later than 20 working days following the date of receipt of the appeal if it is to be heard by the dean or administrative equivalent or within 20 working days of the appointment by the dean or administrative equivalent of a delegate(s).
1. Naming of Delegate(s)
If the dean or administrative equivalent elects to appoint a delegate(s) to hear the appeal, the name or names will be furnished to the employee as soon as practical after the selection is made. If more than one person is appointed, one of them shall be designated in the notice to the employee to serve as chair.
2. Challenge as to Fairness
An employee may challenge the fairness and impartiality of the dean or administrative equivalent or an appointed delegate(s). The challenge must be in writing and must state clearly the factual basis of the challenge. A challenge of the dean or administrative equivalent must be made within 5 working days of the date of the request for an appeal and a challenge of the delegate(s) must be made within 5 working days after the date of the notice appointing the delegate(s). It shall be up to the person challenged to determine whether he or she can serve with fairness and impartiality. If the challenged dean or administrative equivalent determines he or she cannot be fair and impartial, he or she shall appoint a delegate to hear the appeal. If a challenged delegate(s) determines he or she cannot be fair and impartial, the dean or administrative equivalent shall appoint another delegate(s).
3. Exchange of Information
At least 5 working days prior to the time set for the hearing, a departmental representative for the appeal and the appealing employee shall furnish Human Resources - Employee Relations with the names of the witnesses to be called; a summary of their expected testimony; and three copies of each document, record, or exhibit to be introduced at the meeting. Human Resources will facilitate the exchange of information between the employee and the university. Human Resources will also provide this data to the dean or administrative equivalent or the appointed delegate(s) 24 hours in advance of the meeting whenever possible to allow for time to review them for relevancy.
The dean or administrative equivalent or the delegate designated as chair shall preside at the hearing and ensure the order of presentation as well as decide on questions of relevancy. The chair shall also have the discretion to determine the length of the hearing and the form and scope of cross-examination allowed during the hearing. Upon request, the chair may consult with and be advised by legal counsel during the hearing.
5. Right to Representation
The employee has the right to be represented at this hearing by an attorney or some other individual representative who does not claim the right to strike. If the employee is represented by counsel, the university may also be represented by counsel. If the employee chooses to be represented by counsel or another individual representative who does not claim the right to strike, the name, address and telephone number of the attorney/other individual must be supplied to the dean or administrative equivalent no later than 10 working days from the date the employee was informed of the date and time of the meeting. If the employee does not supply this information within the time period prescribed, he or she waives representation by counsel or other representative.
6. Record of the Meeting
All appeal meetings will be audio taped. This tape (or transcript, see below) will serve as the official record of the meeting. The employee may receive a copy of the audio tape on written request at cost. If the employee is represented by counsel, the appeal hearing will be recorded by a court reporter who will record the meeting and swear in witnesses. The court reporter will be provided by the university. The employee may receive a copy of the transcript on written request at cost.
7. Burden of Proof
The burden of proof is on the university to demonstrate by a preponderance of credible evidence that good cause exists for the disciplinary action, and therefore, the university shall have the right to open and close the meeting.
The hearing shall consist of testimony by witnesses called by the university and the employee, with both parties having the right to cross-examine witnesses. Relevant exhibits may be introduced by either party and the meeting officer shall take notice of the employee's personnel record.
Any employee may be asked to appear as a witness for either party. It shall be the duty of an employee requested to testify to do so as to any facts which may be relevant to the appeal. It is the responsibility of each party to assure attendance by its witnesses.
10. Individuals Required to Attend Entire Meeting
The following individuals will be present throughout the meeting:
- the meeting officer;
- a representative of Human Resources, who will facilitate the meeting process;
- the employee (and/or representative); and
- the supervisor (and/or representative).
11. Notification to Dean or Administrative Equivalent
The delegate(s) shall deliberate, prepare and forward written findings and recommendations to the dean or administrative equivalent within 10 working days after the close of the hearing.
12. Employee Notification
The dean or administrative equivalent shall mail a written decision to the employee within 10 working days following the receipt of the findings and recommendations from the delegate(s).
If the dean or administrative equivalent has heard the appeal, he or she shall mail a written decision to the employee within 10 working days after the close of the hearing.
The written decision will be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, to the individual's home address.
The decision of the dean or administrative equivalent is final.
13. Time Limits
The time limits set forth in the appeal process must be adhered to by both the employee and the appropriate supervisory and administrative staff unless extended for good cause by the Chief Human Resources Officer.
The failure of the employee to process the appeal in a timely manner shall constitute withdrawal of the appeal.
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- Appendix A - Examples of Unacceptable Conduct that May Result in Disciplinary Action