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Durham Technical Community College provides supervisors and employees with a fair, clear, and useful tool for improving performance issues, including a process to assist supervisors in handling cases of unacceptable personal conduct. Any disciplinary action taken in accordance with this policy must be for just cause under at least one of the two following basis: (1) discipline imposed based on unsatisfactory job performance including gross inefficiency, or (2) discipline imposed based on unacceptable personal conduct.
The purpose of this policy is to provide a process by which supervisors and employees can reestablish protocols and expectations for their roles. Supervisors and employees are encouraged to collaborate during the process in the most collegial and growth-minded manner. The focus includes promoting the standard for excellence and being a good steward of our resources – which includes employees (talent).
The State Board of Community Colleges (SBCC) requires each college’s Board of Trustees to establish policies and procedures related to employee disciplinary actions. Durham Tech’s Disciplinary Actions, Suspension, and Termination of Employment policy sets forth fair, reasonable, and equitable processes to address concerns related to individual employee performance, behavior, and/or violations of College policies, procedures, or standards of professional conduct.
The objectives of this policy are as follows:
To maintain a set of standards for performance and behavior that is reasonable, fair, and equitably applied;
To communicate standards for employee performance and behavior that support the College’s mission, vision, and values;
To prescribe corrective actions and outline disciplinary measures to be taken when employee performance or behavior is not in keeping with expectations and requirements; and
To provide affirmative feedback when the employee’s performance or behavior changes to meet expectations.
Please Note: In accordance with SBCC Code, the Durham Tech Board of Trustees evaluates the
performance of the President annually. All personnel matters related to the President are handled at the discretion of the Board of Trustees.
Progressive Steps for Performance Improvement
The following conditions must be in place before any disciplinary action can occur:
The supervisor should be satisfied that the employee clearly understands the expectations of employment. These expectations are specifically delineated in the employee’s job description and more generally described in the Employee Handbook and other College policies and procedures;
The supervisor must ensure the employee has access to, and knowledge of, policies, procedures, professional development, and training opportunities; and a work environment conducive to carrying out assigned job duties and responsibilities; and
The supervisor must present documentation of just cause for disciplinary action to the Senior HR Generalist. The appropriate department or division head must endorse a disciplinary action request.
Just Cause for Disciplinary Action
The bases for the discipline or termination of an employee are the following:
Unsatisfactory job performance or gross inefficiency in job performance;
Violation of, or failure to adhere to, established College policies or procedures; and
Unacceptable personal conduct.
Certain actions by an employee may fall under one or more of the bases listed above. When just cause exists, any employee of the College, regardless of position/role, may be subject to disciplinary action by the President. These disciplinary actions may include the following:
Oral or written warnings
Suspension with pay
Suspension without pay
Demotion or departmental transfer (only for unsatisfactory or gross inefficiency in job performance); and
Depending on the nature of the misconduct or the severity of the unsatisfactory job performance, an employee may be subject to a final disciplinary notice or immediate termination from the College without going through progressive disciplinary actions.
An employee’s direct supervisor is responsible for evaluating their job performance throughout the year via confidential one-on-one meetings or coaching sessions (in-person or virtual) emphasizing strengths and areas needing improvement. The supervisor must document performance and/or disciplinary issues on the Disciplinary Action Notice Form.
Performance Management Options
The following performance management options will be applied according to whether the circumstances involve unsatisfactory job performance, gross inefficiency, or unacceptable personal conduct:
- Performance Warning – A written warning serves as documentation of a coaching session where the supervisor articulates, models, and reinforces expected performance and addresses (a) performance deficiencies, (b) behavior concerns, including attendance and tardiness, and (c) violations of policies, procedures, standards of professional conduct, and safety practices. This disciplinary action is intended to focus on the employee’s development through a process that reflects a mutual commitment to the employee’s success and should be issued within five (5) working days of the correlating event unless there are extenuating circumstances.
- Disciplinary Notice – The supervisor initiates a written notice when there are ongoing performance problems, behavior concerns, more serious violations, and/or a recurrence of prior violations. At the Written Notice stage, the supervisor advises the employee of the seriousness of the matter. The intent of this disciplinary action is to focus on the employee’s development through a process that reflects a mutual commitment to the employee’s success and should be issued within five (5) working days of the correlating event unless there are extenuating circumstances.
- Final Disciplinary Notice – The supervisor, with prior approval from the Senior HR Generalist, issues a Final Written Notice when one or both of the following conditions exist:
- Unacceptable egregious personal conduct; and/or
- There is no improvement or resolution related to an employee’s performance deficiencies, behavior issues, or policy violations following a Written Notice (This notice could be for the same violation as the Performance and/or Disciplinary Notices).
- The intent of this disciplinary action is to focus on the employee’s development through a process that reflects a mutual commitment to the employee’s success and should be issued within five (5) working days of the correlating event unless there are extenuating circumstances.
Performance Improvement Plan
The Performance Improvement Plan is intended to reestablish performance and behavior expectations. The Performance Improvement Plan section of the Disciplinary Action Notice Form must be completed for each disciplinary action type, with the exception of termination. Supervisors must consult with the Senior HR Generalist in the development of a Performance Improvement Plan.
The plan must:
- Establish a timeframe of at least thirty (30) calendar days and no more than ninety (90) calendar days;
- Include specific tasks, actions, goals, and/or projects that are achievable and measurable given the timeframe;
- Include milestone check-in meetings (at least biweekly) to discuss progress and provide coaching;
- Include a decision date by which the supervisor will provide closing feedback regarding resolution or further disciplinary action up to and including termination.
The Performance Improvement Plan for each performance management option may be extended in thirty calendar-day increments up to a total of ninety (90) calendar days with the approval of the Director, Human Resources and Talent Management (HRTM).
Documentation and Recordkeeping
The supervisor is responsible for documenting actions taken to address any issues with an employee’s performance or behavior, including any fact-finding activities, discussions with the employee and other relevant parties, analyses and determination of findings, and follow-up actions.
The supervisor must maintain all documentation in their internal department file. The supervisor must use the Disciplinary Action Notice form to track all levels of the performance management process. Signatures of acknowledgment from the employee and supervisor must be included on all Disciplinary Action Notice forms. Disciplinary action types other than a Performance Warning must include written proof of review (i.e., signature or email acknowledgment) from the next level supervisor(s) up to and including the appropriate division head. A copy of all Disciplinary Action Notice forms must be forwarded to HRTM (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless the action involves a HRTM staff member. In that case, the form submission step will not be applicable. Disciplinary Action Notice forms will be maintained in the employee’s HRTM personnel file until it is archived.
The President or their designee (a member of the President’s Cabinet) will apply the following disciplinary actions based on whether the circumstances involve unsatisfactory job performance, gross inefficiency, or unacceptable personal conduct:
- Disciplinary Suspension with Pay – An employee who has allegedly violated a College policy or procedure, standard of professional conduct, or safety guideline may be suspended or placed on administrative leave with pay pending the completion of an investigation. As part of the investigation, the employee’s supervisor, department or division head, and the Director, HRTM must consider the following:
- Whether clear expectations have been communicated to the employee;
- Whether necessary policies, processes, and procedures have been followed;
- Whether corrective action has been recommended;
- Whether training has been accessible to the employee;
- Whether the supervisor has documented the processes, procedures, corrective action, and training;
- Whether the supervisor has documented the employee’s ongoing performance deficiencies, behavior issues, and/or violations;
- Whether the supervisor has provided performance feedback; and/or
- Whether the allegation could result in the President taking action to terminate employment with the College.
- Disciplinary Suspension without Pay – If the President determines that an employee has violated College policies or procedures, a standard of professional conduct or safety practice, or engaged in other unacceptable behavior that, under normal circumstances, could warrant termination of employment, they may suspend the employee without pay for a period of time of their determination based on the employee’s violation and/or behavior.
- Disciplinary Demotion – If the President determines that an employee has committed an egregious act in violation of a College policy or procedure, a standard of professional conduct or safety practice, or engaged in other unacceptable behavior that, under normal circumstances, could warrant termination of employment, the President may demote the employee and adjust their compensation accordingly.
- Involuntary Transfer – If the President determines that an employee does not have the skill set or is otherwise failing to meet their job expectations, the President may reassign the employee to another position or department and may adjust their compensation accordingly. In order for an employee to be involuntarily transferred due to grossly inefficient job performance, they must have the following:
- A current unresolved incident of grossly inefficient job performance; and
- A failed Performance Improvement Plan that was implemented to correct job performance inefficiencies.
In the event of an involuntary transfer, a reduction in pay will occur if significant job duties have been removed.
- Grounds for Immediate Dismissal – Termination of employment may occur for any of the following reasons:
- Failure to perform competently and/or in keeping with the administrative practices of the College and the duties assigned;
- Work performance that fails to meet expectations;
- Neglect of duties or failure to serve in capacities as directed by the administration (i.e., student advisor, committee member);
- Failure to demonstrate progress in a Performance Improvement Plan within a reasonable amount of time;
- Conduct unbecoming a member of the faculty or staff, provided that no such charge constitutes an interference with academic freedom;
- Conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude or a felony;
- Violation of federal or state law;
- Failure of an instructor to regularly attend scheduled classes and appointments;
- Chronic absenteeism;
- Insubordination, unprofessional conduct, or failure to cooperate with other employees to the extent that, in the opinion of the President, dissension interrupts the orderly performance of duties;
- Directly or indirectly intimidating, harassing, bullying, threatening, or coercing an employee in any way;
- Failure to comply with rules, regulations, and policies of the State Board of Community Colleges, the Durham Technical Community College Board of Trustees, or lawful directives of the President or their designee;
- Use of controlled substances during work hours or appearing at any time on College property under the influence of controlled substances in violation of the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act;
- Reporting to work or appearing at any time on College property under the influence of alcohol; and/or
- Violation of the Sexual Misconduct policy.
Please Note: An employee may also be terminated due to financial exigency or elimination of a program, service, or position. Please consult the Reduction in Force (RIF) policy for more information.
In order for an employee to be terminated from employment due to unsatisfactory job performance, they must have the following:
- A current unresolved incident of unsatisfactory job performance; and
- At least two prior active warnings or other disciplinary actions for unsatisfactory job performance or gross inefficiency, or unacceptable personal conduct.
Recommendation to Terminate Employment
A recommendation to the President to terminate an employee must be reviewed and supported by the supervisor’s department or division head and the Director, HRTM. The supervisor is responsible for documenting the employee’s actions and the supervisor’s efforts to support the employee in improving deficiencies, performance, and actions. Documentation in support of the employee’s termination must be reviewed and endorsed by the department or division head and the Director, HRTM. If the recommendation for the employee’s termination is supported by the supervisor’s documentation and determined to be warranted, the department or division head will forward it and a draft of the termination letter to the President for review and consideration. The President’s decision must be based on a thorough review of the actions and documentation of the progressive steps for performance improvement and must be consistent with all applicable College policies and procedures.
If the President supports the termination recommendation, the supervisor or their designee, along with representatives from Campus Police and Public Safety and HRTM will deliver the finalized termination notification to the employee. The letter must include the circumstances surrounding the termination, benefits and leave information, and the termination effective date. HRTM will send the employee a copy of the letter via certified mail and will place a copy in the employee’s Human Resources file.
If an employee feels that the written conditions of employment or published regulations, policies, or procedures were inequitably applied in the impending disciplinary action and/or termination, the employee may seek resolution via the Employee Conflict Resolution and Grievance policy. The employee’s intent to grieve must be stated in writing to HRTM within five (5) working days of receipt of the written notice of disciplinary action or termination. HRTM will examine the request and determine whether the established grievance procedure is appropriate per the Employee Conflict Resolution and Grievance Policy.
Archived Disciplinary Action – A disciplinary action is archived once twenty-four (24) months have elapsed since the resolution of the disciplinary action.
Biweekly – For the purposes of this policy, biweekly is defined as every two (2) weeks.
College Premises – Any property in use by the College including property that is leased, owned, used for College functions, or used by the College in the offering of any of its courses
Current Unresolved Incident – An act of unacceptable personal conduct, unsatisfactory job performance, or grossly inefficient job performance for which no disciplinary action has previously been taken by the College
Disciplinary Suspension with Pay – The temporary removal of an employee for disciplinary reasons or to investigate an allegation during which time they will receive pay
Disciplinary Suspension without Pay – The temporary removal of an employee from work for disciplinary reasons during which time they will not receive pay
Disciplinary Demotion – A disciplinary action that reduces an employee’s salary within their current pay grade or places the employee in a position at a lower pay grade with or without lowering the employee’s salary
Gross Inefficiency (Grossly Inefficient Job Performance) – Failure to satisfactorily perform job requirements as set forth in the job description, Performance Improvement Plan, or as directed by a supervisor, department or division head, or the President. This may also include incidents when an act or failure to act causes or results in:
Death or serious bodily injury or conditions that increase the chance for death or serious bodily injury to others; or
The loss of funds or property or damage to College property that results in a serious adverse impact on the College and/or work unit.
Involuntary Transfer – An involuntary transfer to another department, which could possibly result in a demotion or a lateral transfer
Insubordination – The willful failure or refusal to carry out a reasonable order from an authorized supervisor. Insubordination is unacceptable personal conduct for which any level of discipline, including dismissal, may be imposed without warning.
Moral Turpitude – A legal concept that refers to an act or behavior that gravely violates the mission, vision, and core values of the College.
Termination – The involuntary dismissal of an employee for disciplinary reasons, unsatisfactory job performance, or for failure to obtain or maintain necessary job-related credentials
Unacceptable Personal Conduct – An act, on or off College premises, that is:
Conduct for which no reasonable person should expect to receive prior warning;
Job-related conduct which constitutes a violation of state or federal law;
Conviction for a felony or an offense involving moral turpitude that is detrimental to, or impacts, the employee’s service to the College;
The willful violation of known or written College policies or procedures;
Conduct unbecoming an employee of the College;
Absence from work after all authorized leave and benefits have been exhausted; or
Falsification of an employment application or other employment documentation; and/or
Participating in social media activity that does not support the College’s mission, vision, and core values.
Unsatisfactory Job Performance – Work-related performance that fails to satisfactorily meet job requirements as set forth in the relevant job description, Performance Improvement Plan, or as directed by an employee’s supervisor. When an employee fails to satisfactorily meet their job requirements, there may be just cause for disciplinary action based on the assumption that clear expectations related to job performance have been communicated to the employee. A supervisor’s determination of unsatisfactory job performance must be reasonable, proper, documented, factually supported, and endorsed by the employee’s department or division head. In determining whether an employee’s performance is unsatisfactory, the supervisor should consider any appropriate factors, including, but not limited to, those referenced on the College’s Performance Review and Evaluation Form and the following:
Quality of work
Quantity of work
Work habits (attention to detail, team/group dynamics, follow-through, time management, etc.)
Completion of mandatory trainings;
Timely performance of work;
Related analysis, decision, or judgment;
Accuracy of work;
Results of the Performance Improvement Plan process;
Absenteeism and tardiness;
Ability to follow instructions, directions, and procedures;
Appropriateness of work; and
Conducting classes for the entire noted time.
Performance Improvement Plan – A formalized plan used to address performance and/or behavior issues and professional development needs. The plan is intended to reestablish performance and behavior expectations.
Working Days – Days the College is open and operating under a normal schedule. This excludes weekends, closings due to adverse conditions, and holidays.