SFCC strives to provide a safe and harmonious work environment where employees are able to perform their work productively and effectively. Employees’ conduct should uphold the integrity and reputation of the College. SFCC has adopted an Employee Code of Conduct which establishes standards that all employees must follow in their dealings with other employees, students and the community at large. It includes specific policies on matters of importance to the College and establishes rules and standards for conduct and performance. Employees must be aware of, and follow, all other college policies, in addition to those set out in the Code of Conduct. Employees must also follow all local, state and federal laws in fulfilling their employment duties. Corrective Action or Disciplinary Action may be taken in cases where an employee does not meet conduct or performance expectations or violates any law or college policy or procedure. This Policy does not constitute a contract, either express or implied, between the College and its employees. The College may change, alter, modify or discontinue any of its policies, including this one, in accordance with College policy.
Scope and Applicability
This policy applies to non-instructional regular full-time and part-time employees. It does not apply to student employees, to probationary employees, to temporary employees, to faculty, to employees working for the College under the terms of a separate employment contract, or to individuals hired on contract to perform professional services. Those individuals are governed by other College policies, including Policy 4-44 Employment of Faculty.
The College embraces the philosophy that its employees are its primary asset and therefore uses its best efforts to establish a working relationship with each employee that is stable and predictable. Thus, the College seeks to hire and retain all employees with clear terms and expectations.
To address issues of performance or conduct that involve regular non-probationary employees, the College encourages on-going honest feedback and communication between supervisors and staff. Therefore, the College expects a supervisor to share any conduct or performance concern with the individual employee as early and as informally as appropriate. For typical performance issues, the supervisor should then give the employee a reasonable opportunity to address and resolve the concern. If the employee fails to resolve the concern, the progressive discipline model is provided as a guideline. Depending on the particular circumstances and/or severity of the occurrence, any step or steps in the progressive discipline outlined in this policy may be skipped. A severe sanction, up to and including termination, may be appropriate for a first or subsequent offense. The College distinguishes between Corrective Action and Disciplinary Action.
Corrective Action is designed to assist employees to correct job-related performance or conduct that does not meet expected or required standards at the College. This level of discipline is designed to provide employees with a fair understanding of what is expected of them and an opportunity to improve their performance or correct their conduct. Corrective Action includes verbal coaching, formal verbal warnings and written warnings.
Verbal coaching involves a discussion between a supervisor and an employee to address performance or conduct concerns of a minor nature. Verbal coaching is intended as an informal discussion between the supervisor and the employee and does not need to be documented.
In situations where the employee has demonstrated performance or conduct problems that an employee’s supervisor considers to be in need of correction, the supervisor will meet with the employee, explain that the meeting is a verbal warning, the nature of the unsatisfactory performance or conduct and indicate what is expected of the employee. The employee will have the opportunity in the meeting to discuss the issues raised with the supervisor and to clarify expectations. A verbal warning is intended to help the employee to improve their performance and to correct any inappropriate conduct. The supervisor will document the fact that a verbal warning was given to the employee and placed in the supervisor’s own file. This note will include the date, issues discussed, recommendations made and the response by the employee. Written documentation of the verbal warning will not be placed in the employee’s personnel file when a verbal warning occurs. A record of the verbal warning should be retained in the supervisor’s file for two years after which time the employee may request its removal.
If a verbal warning has been given to an employee and Corrective Action was not taken or in cases where the employee’s supervisor believes, after consultation with Human Resources, that more severe action is appropriate, a written warning may be issued. The supervisor will meet with the employee regarding his or her performance or conduct and will issue a written warning to the employee. The warning will include the following:
- a summary of basis for the warning;
- a clear statement of what the supervisor expects of the employee in the future;
- a warning that disciplinary action will be taken if the issue is not resolved by the employee; and
- a statement that the employee is encouraged to discuss the issues raised by the supervisor and request assistance in dealing with employment related issues.
The supervisor and the employee should sign the written warning to acknowledge receipt of it and the employee shall be provided with a copy. The employee may attach a written statement to the written warning. If the employee refuses to sign the written warning, the supervisor should note the refusal in the employee signature line.
Review of Corrective Action
An employee may seek review of Corrective Action under Policy 4-3 Employee Concerns and Complaints only for a violation of College policy. Otherwise, such Corrective Action may not be appealed.
Disciplinary Action is used to address situations where the employee has failed to address concerns outlined in earlier Corrective Action, there has been a serious violation of a policy or a law or there has been a serious performance issue. Disciplinary Action may include disciplinary probation, demotion, suspension without pay, or termination for cause. In a case where the supervisor believes Disciplinary Action is appropriate, the supervisor shall confer with the Office of Human Resources regarding the situation. The Office of Human Resources and the Vice President must approve any Disciplinary Action before the supervisor implements it.
Disciplinary Probation Disciplinary probation is a special condition for continued employment. It may be appropriate for circumstances when the employee has completed an initial probationary period but has subsequently violated a policy or procedure or has had performance issues that were either not resolved through Corrective Action or are sufficiently serious to warrant immediate disciplinary probation. A disciplinary probation period may not exceed one year. The terms and conditions of the disciplinary probation should be documented and must include:
- a summary of the basis for the disciplinary probation;
- a clear statement of what the supervisor expects of the employee in the future, and the steps required to successfully complete the probation;
- a warning that further Disciplinary Action, up to and including termination, may be taken if the issue is not resolved by the employee; and
- a statement that the employee is encouraged to discuss the issues raised by the supervisor and to request assistance from Human Resources in dealing with employment related issues.
During the term of the disciplinary probation, the employee and supervisor should meet regularly to discuss any concerns and to assess progress.
Demotion is the reduction of the employee’s salary or job level for a disciplinary reason. Demotion is appropriate in circumstances when an employee has been unable to carry out the duties assigned in a particular job after attempts to correct the concern. Demotion may also be used in situations where an employee’s conduct is such that it is no longer appropriate to maintain the person in a particular position of trust or responsibility. After consultation with Human Resources, a supervisor may recommend a demotion and a corresponding decrease in pay, and Human Resources, with the approval of the President or designee, will implement the adjustments.
A suspension is a removal of the employee from the workplace without pay for disciplinary reasons. A suspension may be used to address situations where the employee has failed to address concerns outlined in earlier Corrective Action, or there has been a serious violation of a policy or law or if there has been a serious performance issue. A suspension may be from one to 30 work days depending on the severity of the situation. Human Resources must approve the term of the suspension.
Termination for Cause
Termination for cause is the involuntary separation of an employee from employment with the College. It is considered for the most serious situations where the employee has failed to address concerns outlined in earlier Corrective Action or Disciplinary Action, or the employee’s conduct is so serious as to warrant immediate termination. If an employee is terminated for cause, the record of their termination for cause shall remain in that employee’s personnel file indefinitely.
An employee may be placed on administrative leave with pay when the College determines it is appropriate to remove the employee from the workplace pending conducting an investigation relating to alleged misconduct. Investigatory leave should only be considered in exceptional circumstances for health or safety reasons or to protect the interests of the employee facing suspension, other employees involved in the matter, information pending an investigation, or other interests of the College. Investigative leave must be authorized in writing by the appropriate Vice President, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources.
A supervisor may place an employee on emergency leave with pay if the supervisor believes that the employee’s continued presence in the workplace poses an immediate risk to the health, safety, or security of the College. The supervisor must immediately advise Human Resources and, if appropriate, notify campus security. Human Resources will coordinate with the supervisor to make a determination about appropriate further steps. Emergency leave may not exceed two (2) Working Days.
- Employment contract Refers to the agreement by which certain employees who are not considered Regular Employees or Faculty are employed by SFCC. Employees who are typically hired by an employment contract include executive level directors, employees in sensitive positions; and any other employee which the College proposes to hire as a contract employee because the circumstances warrant.
- Probationary Employee An employee who has been hired to fill a regular full or part-time position who is working in the position during a probationary period.
- Corrective Action A statement of acceptable behavior and a plan designed to assist employees to correct performance issues or conduct that do not meet the expected or required standards at the College. Corrective Action includes verbal coaching, formal verbal warnings and written warnings.
- Disciplinary Action Action taken to address situations where the employee has failed to address concerns outlined in earlier Corrective Action, there has been a serious violation of a policy or a law or there has been a serious performance issue. Disciplinary Action may include disciplinary probation, demotion, suspension without pay, or termination for cause.
- College Hearing Council A list of individuals composed of staff and faculty members who are nominated by the governance groups to be council members, have completed the Office of Human Resources’ training, and may be selected to serve as College Hearing Panel members for appeal hearings brought by employees or students.
- College Hearing Panel Refers to a three-member panel that is formed from the College Hearing Council pool on an as-needed basis to hear appeals of disciplinary action taken by the College against an employee or student.
- Employee – Regular Hired to fill a regular full- or part-time position and who has successfully completed his or her probationary period. Regular Employees have an expectation of continued employment and may be terminated only for good cause. Regular Employees are eligible to apply for any position posted as internal to SFCC employees only.
- Working Days means Monday – Friday, except for regularly scheduled holidays.
The College shall provide an employee with a written notice of the Intended Disciplinary Action. The Notice of Intended Disciplinary Action will include a description of the intended Disciplinary Action and the basis for it, and include a statement describing the employee’s right to seek request a pre-action disciplinary review meeting. Within five (5) Working Days of receipt of the Notice of Intended Disciplinary Action, the employee may request a pre-action disciplinary review meeting with his or her supervisor and the Director of Human Resources to discuss the reasons for the intended Disciplinary Action and have the opportunity to respond to it. Such request must be in writing and submitted to the Director of Human Resources. Upon receipt of the employee’s request, the Director of Human Resources shall schedule a meeting within five (5) Working Days. At the conclusion of the meeting, or within five (5) Working Days of the meeting, the supervisor, after consulting with the Director of Human Resources, shall inform the employee whether he or she is imposing the intended disciplinary action, imposing another disciplinary action the supervisor deems appropriate, or not imposing any disciplinary action. If the employee does not request a pre-action disciplinary review, the intended Disciplinary Action as set forth in Notice of Intended Disciplinary Action shall take effect on the next Working Day after the conclusion of the employee’s five day period to request a pre-action disciplinary review.
If Disciplinary Action is taken against the employee, the employee may request a formal review of the Disciplinary Action before a College Hearing Panel. The employee has five (5) Working Days from the date that the employee receives written notice of the imposition of disciplinary action (or the close of the five day period to request the preaction disciplinary review) to file a request for a formal disciplinary review. Review under this policy involves two steps: A hearing before a College Hearing Panel, and a final decision by the College President.
Step One: Formal Review before a College Hearing Panel
The Office of Human Resources shall provide the employee seeking a disciplinary review with a list of the members of the College Hearing Council within five (5) Working Days of receipt of the employee’s request for formal review. The employee shall notify the Director of Human Resources in writing of his or her selection of one person from the College Hearing Council within five (5) Working Days of receipt of the list. If the employee does not do so within five (5) Working Days, the employee shall be deemed to have abandoned his or her request for formal review. The responding supervisor selects another person from the College Hearing Council and notifies the Director of Human Resources in writing within five (5) Working Days of receipt of the employee’s selection. Once two members have been identified, these two select a third member from the pool, who serves as the Hearing Panel Chair. Either the employee or the responding supervisor may object to a Panel member selected on the basis of a conflict of interest, such as a current relationship, which might lead to the appearance of bias on the part of the person. Such objection shall be submitted to Human Resources in writing within five (5) Working Days of the Panel member’s selection. Human Resources shall evaluate the possible conflict of interest, make a decision whether the selected Panel member shall serve, and so notify the parties.
Human Resources coordinates convening the College Hearing Panel within ten (10) Working Days of the selection of the Hearing Panel Chair. In consultation with the other members of the Panel, the Panel chairperson will then set a date for the hearing within twenty (20) Working Days of being convened by Human Resources. Human Resources will send a written notice to the employee, the responding supervisor and others who may be appropriately involved in the hearing stating the date and time of the hearing.
The employee and the responding supervisor may submit a written statement to the panel prior to the hearing. The Chair shall conduct the hearing. During the hearing, the responding supervisor must demonstrate that good cause exists to discipline the employee. Both parties may call witnesses, cross-examine each other’s witnesses and introduce exhibits. Members of the College Hearing Panel may ask questions of all witnesses and require other employees whose testimony may be relevant to attend as the Hearing Panel’s witnesses. The rules of evidence shall not apply and the Chair may exclude evidence that the chair determines is irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitive. The hearing shall be closed to the public. Witnesses (other than the terminated employee and the responding supervisor) shall be present only to testify. The employee and the responding supervisor may each be accompanied by an attorney or another representative of their choice; however, that attorney or representative may not participate in the hearing, he or she may only advise the employee and the responding supervisor. At the conclusion of the hearing, the College Hearing Panel will prepare a report to the President, summarizing its factual findings and including its general recommendations. The College Hearing Panel will issue its written report to the President within ten (10) Working Days of the hearing.
Step Two: President’s Final Decision
The President in his or her sole discretion may accept, modify or reject, in whole or in part, the recommendation of the Hearing Panel. The President will issue a final decision in writing to the affected parties within five (5) Working Days of receiving the College Hearing Panel report. The President’s decision is final and binding upon the parties.
The College prohibits retaliation against an employee for using this policy. Any employee who is found to have either directly or indirectly retaliated against another employee engaged in this process may be subject to discipline.
Human Resources will maintain a record of the College Hearing Panel report and the President’s final decision, and will manage the records in a manner consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the College.
Approved by the SFCC Governing Board: 8/23/07