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Employee Handbook Section 9 - Employee Conduct and Disciplinary Action

Please Note: Employee conduct provisions are extremely important. The location of these provisions in this handbook and the order of the following provisions should in no way be construed to lessen the importance of any provision.

General policy

Rules of conduct for employees are intended to promote the orderly and efficient operation of the University, as well as protect the rights of all employees. Violations, therefore, shall be regarded as cause for disciplinary action.

These rules are published for the employees' information and protection. Ignorance of work rules is not an acceptable excuse for violation. It is each employee's responsibility to know the rules and abide by them. These rules are not all-inclusive, and other departmental or University regulations may exist. Employees are expected to know and abide by these rules as well.

Rules of conduct for non-bargaining unit employees

Human Resources shall be consulted regarding the consistency of rule interpretation and appropriateness of the penalty being applied for violation of any of the following rules of conduct.

Section 1

For violation of any of the following rules, an employee shall be subject to penalties ranging from a formal written warning notice up to, and including, discharge.

  1. Neglect of duty.
  2. Insubordination or refusal to comply with employer's instructions, unless such instructions are injurious to the employee's safety and health.
  3. Conduct described below:
    1. Immoral or indecent conduct;
    2. Conviction of a felony;
    3. Conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude while an employee of the University; or
    4. Violation of local, state, or federal law which causes unfavorable publicity to the University, impairs the credibility of the employee to perform the employee's job or is otherwise connected to University employment.
  4. Intentional falsification of personnel records, payroll reports or other University records.
  5. Theft, intentional destruction, or defacing of University, employee or student property.
  6. Deliberate or careless conduct endangering the safety of self or other employees, including the provocation or instigation of violence.
  7. Consuming alcoholic beverages while on duty, except at approved University functions, or the possession or consumption of illegal drugs.
  8. Abusive, threatening or coercive treatment of another employee, student or member of the public.
  9. Reporting for work in an unsafe condition, which includes but is not limited to, being under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs. An employee who so reports shall be sent home with pay pending investigation.
  10. Knowingly admitting an unauthorized person or persons into any locked or restricted building or area of the campus.
  11. For other offenses of equal magnitude to the above.

When an employee engages in conduct in violation of the Section 1 rules and the conduct is committed off-duty and not on University property, the University may discipline the employee, up to and including discharge, whenever the conduct causes unfavorable publicity to the University, impairs the credibility of the employee to perform the employee's job or is otherwise connected to employment at the University. Conduct that is off-duty but on University property or that is directed toward University students, employees, representatives or property is always connected to employment at the University. Likewise, conduct that is on duty but off University property is always connected to employment at the University.

Section 2

For the commission of any of the following offenses, an employee shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge. Disciplinary action for the same or different offenses shall progress in the following manner:

  1. Verbal warning. Verbal statement to employee that he/she has violated a rule and/or regulation and that such violation may not continue.

  2. Written reprimand. Formal notification in writing to employee that he/she has violated a rule and/or regulation.

  3. Suspension. Loss of work and wages for a specific number of hours or days, but not for more than one work week, depending on the severity of the offense. Notice of suspension is provided to the employee in writing.

  4. Discharge. The employer/employee relationship is severed.

If an employee receives four warning notices for the same or different offenses within a period of 12 consecutive months, the employee shall, at the time of the issuance of the fourth such notice, be subject to discharge.

  1. Excessive absenteeism.
  2. Excessive tardiness.
  3. Inattentiveness to work, including but not limited to, failure to start work at the designated time, quitting work before proper time, or leaving assigned work area, building, or project during working hours without authorization from appropriate supervisor.
  4. Posting unauthorized materials on walls or bulletin boards; defacing or removing authorized material from bulletin boards.
  5. Violation of a safety rule or safety practice.
  6. Smoking in prohibited areas.
  7. Failure to report for work without giving the supervisor or department head notice of absence within two hours after the beginning of the scheduled workday.
  8. Vending, soliciting or collecting contributions on the University's time or premises without prior appropriate authorization from the University.
  9. Gambling, lottery, or any other game of chance on the employer's premises during working hours.
  10. Any other offense of equal magnitude to the above.

Confidential information

It is each employee's responsibility to become familiar with the provisions included in this policy.

The following policy governs the disclosure of confidential information held in any manner by employees of Western Michigan University. The purpose of this policy is to protect and safeguard individual and University information used throughout the University.

  1. For purposes of this policy, "confidential information" includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Student educational information and discipline records;
    2. Non-public personal information, concerning employees and students including, but not limited to, Western identification numbers, information system user identification numbers and passwords, Social Security numbers, internal communications, banking or financial information, medical and health information, disability status or special needs, insurance information, and personal benefits information,
    3. University-related information which has not been publicly published or released with University authorization, including but not limited to budget, financial, negotiation, bidding and other information,
    4. University research data, information and findings that are protected by law, contract or policy,
    5. Information described as confidential under any other University policy, rule or directive, and
    6. Other information and records which the employee is directed under proper authority to not disclose. Confidential information does not include information publicly disclosed by the University or which is required to be disclosed pursuant to law or contract.
  2. All University employees must hold any confidential information in trust and confidence, and not use or disclose it or any embodiment thereof, directly or indirectly, except as may be necessary in the performance of duties for the University or as otherwise required by law or contract.
  3. University employees may not remove confidential information from a University department or office, or duplicate confidential information, unless authorized by the University to do so. Upon termination of any assignment or as directed by a supervisor, employees shall return all such materials and copies thereof to their proper location in the department or office.
  4. All requests by external entities or persons for the disclosure of confidential University information should be promptly directed to Western Michigan University's Freedom of Information Act Office, unless the employee has received previous University authority to respond to such a request.
  5. The policy does not prevent or prohibit the internal use of confidential information for the legitimate academic, administrative, and operational purposes and needs of the University as authorized by the University. This policy does not prevent or prohibit employees from good faith disclosures of a violation(s) of law, contract or policy, either within the University or to the appropriate external body or authority, and such disclosure will not result in adverse employment action against the disclosing employee.
  6. Questions regarding authorized disclosure or use under this policy should be directed to the University employee's supervisor prior to disclosure or use.
  7. University employees who violate this policy will be subject to legal action, including but not limited to disciplinary action up to and including termination of their employment or contractual relationship.

Whistleblower

The whistleblower policy is located on the Western Michigan University policies page.

Non-Discrimination

The non-discrimination policy is located on the Western Michigan University policies page.

Sexual harassment

The sexual harassment policy is located on Institutional Equity's website.

Consensual sexual relations

The consensual sexual relations policy is located on Institutional Equity's website.

Employment of relatives (nepotism)

Relatives may be employed if they meet regular WMU employment standards. However, staff members may not participate in or otherwise influence University decisions which involve members of their own families. This includes hiring, promotion, retention, leaves, pay changes, etc. The policy on Consensual Sexual Relations also requires that married couples not work in positions where one has direct influence over the other.

Outside employment

Full-time employees are expected to devote their workday efforts to the job for which they were hired. Thus, some restrictions have been placed on outside employment and the pay received for that work. Policy for this varies with each employee group. For details on what rules apply to you, contact your supervisor or Human Resources.

Workplace threats, violence and weapons

The University is committed to the safety and security of all persons. To ensure a safe workplace and to reduce the risk of violence, all employees should review and understand all provisions of this workplace threats, violence and weapons policy.

Threats and violence

The University will not tolerate any threats, threatening behavior, or acts of violence committed by or against employees or on University property. Violations of this policy will lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, as well as arrest and prosecution for any criminal acts.

Weapons on campus

The weapons on campus policy is located on the Western Michigan University policies page.

Prohibited conduct

Employees are prohibited from making threats or engaging in violent activities. This list of behaviors, while not inclusive, provides examples of conduct that is prohibited.

Dealing with confrontation

Employees who confront or encounter an armed or dangerous person should not attempt to challenge or disarm the individual. Employees should remain calm, make constant eye contact and talk to the individual. If a supervisor can be safely notified of the need for assistance without endangering the safety of the employee or others, such notice should be given. Otherwise, cooperate and follow the instructions given.

Reporting

University employees are responsible to notify the Department of Public Safety or the Associate Vice President for Human Resources of any threats they have witnessed or received, or any behavior they have witnessed which they regard as threatening or violent, when the threat or behavior is job-related, or might be carried out on University property, or is connected to University employment.

Enforcement and discipline

Upon notification to Public Safety and/or the Associate Vice President for Human Resources, the person making threats, exhibiting threatening conduct, or committing any other acts of aggression or violence on University property shall be removed from University property as quickly as safety permits and shall remain off University property pending investigation. Any employee determined to have committed such acts will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination and/or criminal prosecution. Non-employees engaged in violent acts on University property will be reported to the proper authorities and fully prosecuted.

Risk assessment

The University has established a risk assessment team consisting of representatives from Human Resources, Public Safety, the Employee Assistance Program, Office of Institutional Equity and other departments as required. Supervisors and managers who need assistance in assessing risk may contact Human Resources, who will then schedule a meeting of the risk assessment team.

Drug-free workplace

The University prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession or use of a controlled substance in the workplace. All employees must abide by the terms of this drug-free workplace policy. Employees violating such prohibition will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.

The term "controlled substance" refers to all illegal drugs and to legal drugs used without a physician's order. It does not prohibit taking prescription medication under the direction of a physician.

Smoke-free policy

The smoke-free policy is located on the Western Michigan University policies page.

Public office candidacy

Employees seeking public office of any kind must wholly separate their campaign activities from their employment at the University. Employees must not conduct any activity in direct or indirect furtherance of their candidacy during their working hours. Further, employees may not use any University resource of any kind to carry out any campaign activity. This prohibition specifically includes, but is not limited to, the use of University telephones (including voice mail), pagers, cellular phones, computers (including email), fax machines, office space or any other facility on campus, including all libraries, cafeterias, meeting rooms, recreational facilities, etc.

Collections and donations

Solicitation of employees by outside agencies or individuals is not allowed during working hours in any manner, including by way of email messages. Official notice will be given for any authorized program to which contributions may be made by payroll deduction. Staff members are expected to obtain approval from their department or unit head or supervisor before canvassing other employees.

Minors on campus

Please see Minors on Campus.

Gifts

The University discourages employees from accepting gifts from individuals or firms doing business with the University. Therefore, no employee shall solicit, accept or agree to accept anything of value under circumstances which could reasonably be expected to influence the manner in which the employee performs work or makes decisions.