851  Disciplinary Policy for Administrative and Classified Personnel

Approved by President
Effective Date: June 5, 2017
Responsible Division: Business and Finance
Responsible Office:  Human Resource Services
Responsible Officer:  Assistant Vice President, Human Resource Services

I. Purpose

This policy establishes a progressive discipline process which affords consistent and equitable treatment of all Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU or University) administrative and classified employees.   

II. General

A.  All new administrative and classified employees are on probation for a period of six (6) months. If during this period there is cause for disciplinary action, it may result in termination.

B.  This disciplinary policy does not preclude “no cause” terminations under the terms of the employment contract.

C.  Normally, the basis for taking disciplinary action is for the purpose of addressing unsatisfactory performance or correcting an individual's misconduct and to warn that repetition of this or similar behavior can result in termination of employment.   

D.  No disciplinary action involving written warnings, final written warnings, administrative leave, suspension, or termination is to be taken against any employee who has successfully completed his/her probationary period until such disciplinary action has been discussed with the Assistant Vice President for Human Resource Services or designee, except when, in the judgment of the employee's supervisor, immediate suspension is necessary to protect the safety of persons or property or for a similarly grave reason. In addition, termination requires the concurrence of the appropriate Vice President/Provost and the President.

E.  While MTSU will generally take disciplinary action in a progressive manner, it reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to determine whether and what disciplinary action will be taken in a given situation.

III. Supervisory Responsibility

A.  The supervisor is responsible for maintaining proper conduct and discipline of University administrative and classified employees under his/her supervision.

B.  When disciplinary action appears to be necessary, the supervisor will conduct an interview with the employee at the earliest opportunity to:

1.  give the employee a clear understanding of exactly what is expected of him/her and why;

2.  explain in what way the employee has failed in meeting the requirements or in what way his/her conduct has been unacceptable;

3.  give the employee an opportunity to account for his/her actions or lack of actions; and

4.  take disciplinary action if the situation warrants it.

C.  All disciplinary discussions should occur in a climate conducive to good understanding and reasonable discussion.

D.  The supervisor is responsible for the appropriate documentation of disciplinary actions.

IV. Forms of Disciplinary Action

A.  MTSU has adopted a progressive discipline policy to identify and address employee and employment related problems. Most often, employee conduct that warrants discipline results from unacceptable behavior, poor performance, and/or violation of MTSU policies, standards, practices, or procedures. However, discipline can be issued for conduct that falls outside of those identified areas. In addition, some MTSU policies related to sexual harassment or Title IX violations may contain other specific discipline procedures.

B.  MTSU will normally adhere to the following progressive disciplinary process:

1.  Verbal Caution. An employee will be given a verbal caution, when he/she engages in problematic behavior. As the first (1st)  step in the progressive discipline policy, a verbal caution is meant to alert the employee that a problem may exist or that one has been identified which must be addressed. Verbal cautions will be documented and maintained for a period of three (3) months in the supervisor’s desk personnel file. 

2.  Verbal Warning. A verbal warning is more serious than a verbal caution and will be given to an employee who already has been issued a verbal caution, and within the specified three (3) month time period continues to exhibit the same unwanted behaviors despite the issuance of a verbal caution. Verbal warnings are documented and placed in the supervisor’s desk personnel file for a period of six (6) months. Verbal warnings may also be issued to an employee without first issuing a verbal caution for more serious behaviors that may warrant such action.

3.  Written Warning A written warning is more serious than a verbal warning. A written warning will be issued to an employee who engages in more serious conduct that justifies formal written documentation or if the employee fails to correct the unwanted behaviors that have been previously noted in a verbal caution and/or verbal warning. A written warning will be placed in the employee’s official personnel file in Human Resource Services (HRS), with a copy given to the employee.

4.  Final Written Warning. A final written warning is more serious than a written warning. A final written warning will be given to an employee when he/she continues to engage in conduct that is not acceptable and that he/she has received previous disciplinary warnings (verbal caution, verbal warning and/or written warning). The final written warning shall advise the employee that unless there is immediate and sustained correction of the unwanted behaviors, he/she faces further severe disciplinary consequences, up to and including termination of employment. A final written warning will be placed in the employee’s official personnel file in HRS, with a copy given to the employee, and will be considered enforce for twelve (12) months.

5.  Suspension. An employee will be suspended without pay when he/she engages in behavior determined to warrant immediate removal from the workplace, or when the employee continues to exhibit unwanted behaviors for which he/she has already received a written and/or final written warning. The length of the suspension will be dependent on the type of offense.

6.  Administrative Leave. An employee may be placed on a paid administrative leave when circumstances require a thorough investigation of an allegation and or incident that has occurred that involves the employee, and it has been determined that the continued presence of the employee in the workplace would not be appropriate. 

7.  Termination. An employee may be terminated when he/she continues to exhibit unwanted behavior despite multiple previous disciplinary actions. An employee may also be terminated without having been subjected to prior disciplinary action when circumstances warrant. Some behaviors that may warrant immediate termination include, but are not limited to:

a.  The illegal use, manufacture, possession, distribution, or dispensing of controlled substances or alcohol.

b.  Theft or dishonesty.

c.  Fighting on University property.

d.  Disorderly conduct.

e.  Possession of weapons on University property in violation of Policy 705 Weapons on Campus.

f.  Fraud or falsification of University records, including timesheets or other payroll documents.

g.  Willful violation of safety rules.

h.  Willful destruction of University property.

i.  Gross insubordination or willful disregard of instructions.

j.  Any work-related conduct which would subject the employee to criminal conviction.

k.  Any act or omission which may seriously disrupt or disturb the normal operation of the University.

l.  Reporting for duty under the influence of intoxicants.

V. Grievance Processes

A. A classified employee who is suspended and/or terminated may file a grievance regarding the action, in accordance with the procedures outlined in Policy 853 Classified Grievance or Complaint.

B.  An administrative employee who is suspended and/or terminated may be entitled to file a grievance regarding the action, in accordance with the procedures outlined in Policy 852 Administrative, Professional, and Faculty Grievance or Complaint.

Forms: none.

Revisions: none.

Last Reviewed: March 2022.

References: Policies 705 Weapons on Campus; 852 Administrative, Professional, and Faculty Grievance or Complaint; 853 Classified Grievance or Complaint.