University of Minnesota
Office of Human Resources
http://www.umn.edu/ohr
612-625-2016

Article 22 Discipline

Statement of Philosophy

If supervisors notice work-related behavior problems, they are encouraged to bring these problems to the attention of the employee. When such communica­tion takes place before disciplinary action is initiated, it may often be sufficient to correct the work-related behavior problems. Employees or supervisors are encouraged to consult Union or Human Resource representatives in order to help solve the problem.

These statements of philosophy are not subject to the grievance procedure nor shall either party present this statement to an arbitrator as evidence or argument in connection with any disputes that may go to arbitration.

Section 1. Discipline for Just Cause

Disciplinary action shall be taken only for just cause, however probationary employees may be discharged without just cause and shall have no right to grieve dis­charge (see Article 7, Probationary Period). Disciplinary action, except discharge, shall have as its purpose the correction or elimination of incorrect work-related behavior by an employee.

Supervisors may not take disciplinary action against an employee who, in good faith, reports a violation of any federal or state law or regulation to a governmental body or law enforcement official. Disciplinary action may not be taken against an employee who is requested by a public agency to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry, as well as an employee who refuses to participate in any activity that the employee, in good faith, believes violates state or federal law.

Section 2. Coaching

The normal corrective disciplinary procedure shall consist of three (3) steps, except that initial minor work deficiencies will normally be privately brought to the employee's attention through coaching. Coaching may include, but is not limited to instructions, directions, or prompting to the employee. Coaching provides feedback on job performance and is intended to be corrective and constructive. Coaching shall not be considered disciplinary.

Section 3. Investigatory Meeting

Twenty-four (24) hours notice of investigatory meetings shall be given to the employee whenever possible. Seventy-two (72) hours notice will be provided to the Local Union, when practicable, for investigatory meetings outside the Metropolitan area. Upon request, the employee is entitled to a Union representative at an investigatory meeting which may result in disciplinary action against the employee. The communication to employees regarding the investigatory meeting shall include a statement about the right to Union representation. However, neither the refusal of the employee's Union Steward or Union representative to participate nor their unavailability shall abridge the Employer's right to conduct an investigation. The Employer shall provide a written summary of the investigation results to the employee, and the Union if it is involved in representing the employee during the investigation within seven (7) days of the conclusion of the investigation. Investigation results may include, but are not limited to, exoneration of the employee or the conclusion that disciplinary action is not to be taken at this time. Where a change in policy or procedure is made as a result of the investigation, the Employer will provide written notification of the change to all affected employees.

Section 4. Disciplinary Meeting

Supervisors shall give employees a forty-eight (48) hour notice, whenever possible, of planned disciplinary meetings.  If the Steward and the employee agree, the disciplin­ary meeting can be held less than forty-eight (48) hours after notification, but the Steward or employee cannot refuse to hold an immediate meeting if circumstances require it. Supervisors shall give employees the opportunity to have a Union Steward present for an oral warning, a written warning, a notice of suspension, or a notice of discharge. Employees will be given an opportunity to hear the evidence and respond to the evidence supporting suspension or discharge while still in pay status. Non-supervisory co-workers, other than a Union Steward of the employee's choice, shall not be present in another employee's disciplinary meeting.

In cases of immediate suspension or discharge, the supervisor will meet with the Steward and employee prior to the employee being required to leave the facility. However, neither the refusal of the Union Steward to participate nor his/her unavailability shall abridge the Employer's right to take disciplinary action.

Section 5. Confidential Nature of Discipline

Disciplinary action taken by the Employer should be conducted away from coworkers and the public, except that action taken in accordance with Section 4 of this Article shall not be a violation of this provision. Disciplinary investigations and meetings are to be treated confidentially by all concerned. The University may release public information on disciplinary action(s) per the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act and/or other applicable law. Grievances citing violation of only this section shall not result in a remedy that overturns the disciplinary action.

Section 6. Corrective Disciplinary Procedure

The normal corrective disciplinary procedure shall consist of three (3) steps, except that initial minor work deficiencies shall be privately brought to the employee's attention through coaching.

Both parties agree that the order of discipline below is the progressive order of discipline; however, situations may arise where it will be appropriate to depart from this order.

  1. An oral warning shall be given to the employee specifying the nature of any incorrect work-related behavior and pointing out that non-correction will result in further disciplinary action. Oral warnings shall be documented by use of a standard University form that shall be sent to the department/administrative unit file with a copy provided to the employee.
  2. A written warning shall be given to the employee specifying the nature of any continuing incorrect work-related behavior and pointing out that non-correction will result in further disciplinary action.
  3. A notice of suspension shall be given to the employee with a written explanation specifying the nature of any continuing incorrect work-related behavior and pointing out that non-correction will result in further disciplinary action.

Discipline beyond oral warning will be documented in writing to the employee with a copy to his/her official personnel file. The employee shall sign a standard University form to acknowledge discipline has occurred and shall receive a copy of the form and any accompa­nying letters. However, refusal of the employee to sign the form will not invalidate the disciplinary action. A copy of the written statement(s) will be provided to the Steward when written warning, suspension or discharge is involved.

Section 7. Discharge

Any demand by the Employer for an employee's resignation shall be considered a discharge.

The Employer shall have the right to discharge an employee who:

  1. Is judged by the Employer to be guilty of continuing non-correction of improper work-related behavior after suspension as specified in Section 6C above;
  2. Endangers in a willful or careless manner, the safety of students, patients, the public, himself/herself or other employees;
  3. Causes a liability for the Employer by willful or careless violation of University procedures or policies;
  4. Is judged by the Employer to be guilty of serious violations of generally accepted standards of employee conduct such as, but not limited to, theft, fraud, willful or careless destruction of Employer property, gross insubordination or falsifying of documents;
  5. Fails to pass probation except as provided under Article 7, Probationary Period;
  6. Engages in behavior other than A-E above which in the Employer's judgment meets accepted just cause termination tests.

Should the Employer feel there is just cause for immediately discharging an employee who has passed probation, the employee may be placed on a paid leave during which the Union and the employee shall be notified immediately and be given an opportunity to hear and respond to the evidence supporting the discharge.

Section 8. Discipline Records In File

Written allegations of improper employee behavior shall be purged from departmental files after one (1) year whether or not those allegations have resulted in coaching or discipline. Such allegations would only be placed in an official personnel file if they are part of an official disciplinary action. If no disciplinary action is taken against an employee for one (1) work year following an oral or written reprimand, all records of such oral or written disciplinary action shall be removed from the employee's personnel file and destroyed. If no disciplinary action is taken for two (2) years after a suspension or three (3) years after a suspension for patient abuse, sexual harassment, or physical assault, all records of those suspensions shall be removed from the employee's personnel file and destroyed.  For suspensions for patient abuse, sexual harassment, or physical assault, the record as a whole and the totality of the circumstances therein shall be retained.

Section 9. Appeal

All disciplinary actions taken by the Employer may be processed through the procedure for Settlement of Disputes per Article 21, except for an employee's failure to pass probation, as provided in Article 7, Probationary Period. The Union shall have the right to initiate a grievance involving discharge of an employee who has passed probation at the second step of the grievance procedure in accordance with the provisions of Article 21, Settlement of Disputes.