Delta State University is an at will employer and as such reserves the right to terminate employment from any position at any time and for any reason. It is the policy of Delta State University to assist employees in improving job performance or correcting improper conduct to avoid termination when possible.
Employee: This generally includes faculty and staff employees who are working on paid appointments by the University. It generally excludes students or temporary employees. For specific information on who is considered an employee, contact the Human Resources Department.
Supervisor: An employee designated by management who exercises major supervisory functions over another employee or employees. These functions include hiring, evaluating, assigning work, and disciplining employees.
PROCEDURES and RESPONSIBILITIES
Delta State University is committed to maintaining an environment conducive to the conduct of business and one in which the rights of others are respected. The University expects of its employees behavior consistent with the expectations of an institution of higher education. Part of the intent of this section is to identify typical offenses or behavior patterns for which disciplinary actions are taken. This is necessary in order to provide consistent treatment of all employees and so that the rights of some employees will not be violated by other employees.
Employees are expected to abide by departmental, University and Board of Trustees policies and procedures. It is the responsibility of the supervisor/department head to establish and communicate policies to employees, to administer policies fairly, and to investigate employee violations of policy when necessary before disciplinary action is taken. Disciplinary action will bear a reasonable relationship to the violation and will usually, but not always, be progressive.
The University reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to utilize forms of discipline less severe than termination in differing circumstances in order to correct employees' performance problems or unacceptable behavior. Although one or more of the following procedures may be taken, no formal order or system is necessary, and the University may terminate employment at any time.
If any employee is performing unsatisfactorily or exhibiting improper conduct, the supervisor will work with the employee in an attempt to improve conduct or performance. If disciplinary measures are imposed, it is essential that:
If corrective action is necessary, the progressive disciplinary steps outlined below will normally be followed. The nature or severity of the offense will determine the first step.
Step I. Documented Oral Warning. Once an employee performance/conduct problem has been identified, and where informal actions such as counseling, training, and assistance have not brought about acceptable performance/conduct, then a formal discussion should take place. The employee will be informed of his/her deficiencies and acceptable performance/conduct will be discussed. The discussion will be documented and the employee will be given a copy. A documented oral warning should normally be given in private by the supervisor to an employee as a first step in correcting minor deficiencies. (Some first offenses of a more serious nature may require stronger action.)
Step II. Formal Warning. Formal warnings are to be used for recurring or more serious deficiencies or where there is future possibility of more severe action including termination or after an oral warning notice has been unsuccessful. Formal warnings are to be written to the employee and must indicate the date and specific nature of the deficiency and that more severe action may result if the employee does not correct the deficiency. The employee must be provided a copy of the warning and a copy sent to the Director of Human Resources.
Step III. Suspension. If the employee's misconduct or poor work performance continues, the next progressive disciplinary step is a suspension without pay. The suspension will be for three (3) working days and is the final disciplinary step prior to discharge. This action is taken where previous progressive disciplinary steps have not corrected the deficiency or where the offense is of such serious nature that it may warrant discharge, pending review of the facts. Very serious offenses may be cause for immediate suspension without the steps outlined above. Notices of suspension are placed in the employee's personnel file. The supervisor and/or department head must have written approval from his/her reporting Vice-President before initiating a suspension. The employee must be provided a copy of the suspension warning and a copy sent to the Director of Human Resources.
Step IV. Dismissal. Termination of the employee is a last resort after all other progressive disciplinary measures have failed or if the misconduct is of such a serious nature that immediate discharge is warranted. Recommendation for dismissal should be reasonably related to the seriousness of the employee's performance/conduct in view of length of service and prior record. Human Resources will review the case to verify that there is just cause for termination of employment and that the employee has been afforded due process. After consultation with the Director of Human Resources, recommendations for dismissal of employees are initiated by the supervisor and/or department head and approved by the reporting Vice-President and Human Resources before any action can be taken. Employees are to be advised in writing by their supervisor and/or department head, stating the reasons for recommending dismissal, effective date of action, notice of the employee's right to appeal, and the procedure and deadline for filing an appeal. A copy of the recommendation is to be sent to the Director of Human Resources.
The University recognizes that dismissal for any reason is a serious matter. All decisions regarding dismissal are made by the reporting Vice President and Human Resources, after consultation with the immediate supervisor and discussion with the affected employee. In cases of termination of any employee because of lack of funds or reorganization, the employee is to be notified at least four weeks in advance if circumstances and advance knowledge permit.
Before a non-probationary regular full-time classified employee may be terminated for cause, the immediate supervisor must notify the employee with a written notice of intent to terminate, in which the reasons for the intent are cited. The immediate supervisor must present the intent to terminate in person, if at all possible; if not, by certified or registered mail at the employee's last known residence. The immediate supervisor shall simultaneously inform the employee of the right to a hearing as outlined below. Moreover, the supervisor has the option in any such instance to suspend with pay any employee who requests a hearing.
A classified employee entitled to a hearing by virtue of a notice of intent to terminate shall have two working days from the date of receipt of the notice of intent to request a hearing before a Personnel Advisory Committee. The President will appoint a panel of five members outside of the employee's work division. One of the panel members will be appointed as Chair by the President.
A different committee shall be appointed for each hearing. If the employee does not request a hearing, the employee's salary ceases at the end of the second working day following the receipt of the notice of intent to terminate. If the employee requests a hearing, the hearing shall occur within five working days of the receipt of the request for a hearing.
The committee will not be bound by strict rules of evidence, but may admit any evidence that is of probative value in determining the issues involved. The staff member will be permitted an adviser of his own choice, at his own expense, and will be afforded an opportunity to present witnesses and documentary evidence bearing on the issue involved.
Hearings will be private. Public statements are to be avoided by all parties concerned, so that the atmosphere conducive to a fair and impartial hearing may be maintained. Based upon the evidence presented, the committee will then make such recommendation to the President as it deems appropriate. If the President affirms the dismissal, then termination becomes final as of the fifth working day of the receipt of the request for a hearing.