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Handbook of Operating Procedures

Discipline and Dismissal of Classified Employees

Policy Number: 187

Subject:

Discipline and Dismissal

Scope:

Classified Employees

Date Reviewed:
June 2021
Responsible Office:
Human Resources
Responsible Executive:
Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer

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. Formal disciplinary actions must be approved by Human Resources – Employee Relations (“Employee Relations”). 

The formal disciplinary actions defined in this policy 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 conduct. Formal disciplinary action may be appealed by the employee within the provisions of this policy.

The policy and procedures described herein do not apply to:

  • The University of Texas Police - Houston classified employees;
  • employees being separated from the university due to a reduction in force;  
  • employees placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation;
  • employees who have not successfully completed the probationary period;
  • administrative and professional employees;
  • persons who are employed in positions that require student status as a condition of employment;
  • the dismissal of persons who occupy positions dependent upon funding from a specific source and such funding is not received or is ended;
  • the dismissal of persons who are dismissed due to financial exigency;
  • the dismissal of persons who are appointed for a stated period that is less than six months;
  • the dismissal of persons who are appointed at a per diem or hourly rate and work on an as needed basis;
  • the dismissal of persons who have not attained or maintained the necessary clearance, certification or licensure for their position; or,
  • the dismissal of persons who have exhausted applicable leave entitlements.

II. DEFINITIONS

Formal disciplinary action:  A formal disciplinary action is either demotion, suspension without pay for a period not to exceed 15 calendar days, or termination of employment. 

III. PROCEDURE

     A. Employee Responsibilities

Employees are responsible for knowledge of and compliance with the performance criteria for their jobs and with all rules, regulations, procedures and/or standards of conduct established by The University of Texas System Board of Regents, the university, their departments and any affiliated hospitals, clinics and/or agencies where they are assigned to work.  

          1. Work Performance

Any employee who does not fulfill the responsibilities set out by such work performance criteria and/or does not comply with rules, regulations and/or procedures may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Work performance includes all aspects of an employee's work and is judged by the supervisor.  Work performance that does not satisfy work performance standards or does not comply with the supervisor’s instructions will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

          2. Conduct

All employees are expected to maintain standards of conduct suitable and acceptable in the work environment. Disciplinary action, up to and including termination may be imposed for unacceptable conduct.

The following are examples of conduct subject to disciplinary action. This list is not exhaustive.

• Falsification of official university documents, employment applications, or records.

• Neglect of duties, loafing or wasting work time, or failure to meet a reasonable and objective measure of efficiency and productivity.

• Smoking on university premises.

• Sexual misconduct as defined in HOOP Policy 59, Prohibition of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct.

• Gambling, participating in lotteries or other games of chance on university premises.

• Soliciting, collecting money or circulating petitions on the premises other than within the policies of the university.

• Bringing intoxicants or controlled substances onto the premises; using intoxicants or controlled substances on the premises; having intoxicants or controlled substances in one's possession on the premises; or being under the influence of intoxicants or controlled substances on the premises at any time. Note: This provision does not apply to the consumption of alcoholic beverages served in accordance with university policy at university-sponsored events.

• Abuse or waste of tools, equipment, fixtures, property, supplies or goods that are the property of the university.

• Creating or contributing to unhealthy or unsanitary conditions.

Creating a condition hazardous to another person on the premises. Violating safety rules or accepted safety practices.

• Failure to cooperate with supervisor or co-workers, impairment of function of the work group, or disruptive or disorderly conduct, such as horseplay, harassment of other employees, or use of abusive language on the premises.

• Fighting, encouraging a fight, or threatening, attempting, or causing injury to another person on the premises.

• Theft, dishonesty, or unauthorized use of university property, including records and confidential information.

• Destroying or defacing institutional property or records or the property of another member of the university community.

• Refusing to follow instructions or to perform designated work that may be required or refusing to adhere to established rules and regulations, including those of affiliated hospitals, clinics and/or agencies where they are assigned to work..

• Repeated tardiness or absenteeism; absence without proper notification of the supervisor; absence without satisfactory reason; or unavailability for work.

• Possession of a weapon on the premises at any time, except as permitted by law.  See also HOOP 222, Concealed Handguns on Campus.

     B. Non-formal Disciplinary Actions

Non-formal disciplinary action, such as performance coaching, performance improvement plans, and written reprimands, may not be appealed within the provisions of this policy.  These types of supervisory actions may be grieved by the employee through the grievance procedure stated in HOOP Policy 146 Grievances.  Managers are encouraged to consult with Employee Relations before addressing performance issues with employees.  The issuance of performance improvement plans and written reprimands must be approved by Employee Relations.  

     C. Paid Administrative Leave

Paid administrative leave may be imposed at the discretion of the supervisor in consultation with Employee Relations when it is 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.

     D. Disciplinary Procedures

Once a supervisor has determined that formal disciplinary action is an appropriate action to consider imposing on an employee because of his or her unacceptable conduct or work performance, the supervisor must consult with Employee Relations to obtain approval for the action.  The supervisor will then complete and submit the Notice of Intent to Take Disciplinary Action form (“Notice”) to Employee Relations.  

The supervisor will provide the employee with the Notice, which will include 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 statements in the Notice either verbally and/or in writing within a reasonable time before a final decision is made whether to take disciplinary action. The pre-disciplinary notification serves as an opportunity to avoid mistaken decisions to impose discipline and is not intended to address the propriety of the disciplinary action being considered.

After review of the employee's response, the supervisor may impose disciplinary action if, in his or her judgment, it is appropriate. Employee Relations will participate in all disciplinary proceedings.  The supervisor shall give the employee a copy of a completed Notice of Disciplinary Action, which will serve as formal notification of disciplinary action. Employee Relations will inform the employee of the right to appeal a formal disciplinary action and provide the employee with a copy of this policy.

     E. 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, if a demotion is overturned after appeal, the employee will be returned to work to his or her former position. An employee who is terminated will not accrue vacation and sick leave, be covered by group insurances, or be entitled to other employee benefit programs effective on the date of termination. If the termination is overturned on appeal, the employee will be reinstated to his or her position and will 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.

     F. Procedure for Written Appeal

Formal disciplinary action may be appealed by the affected employee pursuant to the process set out below. The appeal procedure will cease in the following circumstance:  the formal disciplinary action imposed was termination and the employee has accepted a job offer from the university and has been cleared to start work prior to the completion of the appeal process.

          1. Deadline to Submit Written Appeal

The written appeal must be made within seven calendar days following the date of the disciplinary action. Calculation of calendar days does not include holidays or “skeleton crew” days as indicated on the published university calendar.

          2. Where to Submit Written Appeal

The affected employee must submit the written appeal to the dean or administrative equivalent and a copy to Employee Relations. The dean or administrative equivalent must consult with 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 Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Employee Relations will deliver the written appeal to the supervisor who signed the disciplinary action for response within seven calendar days of receipt. Once the written appeal is submitted, no additional changes or additions may be made unless granted by the dean or administrative equivalent. The failure of the employee to submit the appeal in a timely manner shall constitute a withdrawal of the appeal.

          3. Written Appeal

A written appeal shall contain:

(1)        A clear and concise statement of the reasons the employee believes the disciplinary action to be inappropriate;

(2)        The reason(s) the employee believes the disciplinary action decision should be changed;

(3)        The name(s) and contact information of any witness that may have information relevant to the employee’s disciplinary action;

(4)        The specific remedy sought by the employee;

(5)        Any additional relevant information to be considered in support of the employee’s written appeal; and

(6)        The name and contact information of the employee’s representative, if any.

          4. Supervisor's Response to Written Appeal

Within seven calendar days following the receipt of the written appeal, the employee’s supervisor shall submit the employee’s written appeal, his or her written response and all documentation relevant to the disciplinary action to the dean or administrative equivalent.  A copy of the employee’s personnel file may also be submitted by the supervisor to the dean or administrative equivalent, if requested. 

          5. Written Decision

Within fourteen calendar days following receipt of the information from the supervisor, the dean or administrative equivalent will render a written decision. The written decision will be sent to the employee’s last known email address.  Upon request, a copy may also be sent to the employee’s last known home address. The employee is responsible for keeping Human Resources notified of his or her current email and mailing address. The decision of the dean or administrative equivalent is final.             

          6. Extension of Time Requests

The Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, or designee, may grant an extension to any of the deadlines set forth in this policy. Notice of any time extension grant shall be provided by Employee Relations in writing to the employee.

          7. Documentation of Disciplinary Actions

Copies of all employee appeals, responses, and decisions pertaining to disciplinary actions shall be maintained as a part of the employee’s official personnel file.        

IV. CONTACTS

    • Human Resources- Employee Relations
    • 713-500-3180
    • http://www.uth.edu/hr/department/employee-relations/index.htm