Employee Conduct and Disciplinary Action

Employee Handbook Section 9

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 Western Michigan University employees are intended to promote the orderly and efficient operation of Western Michigan 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.

  • A. Neglect of duty.
  • B. Insubordination or refusal to comply with employer's instructions, unless such instructions are injurious to the employee's safety and health.
  • C. 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.
    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.
  • D. Intentional falsification of personnel records, payroll reports or other University records.
  • E. Theft, intentional destruction, or defacing of University, employee or student property.
  • F. Deliberate or careless conduct endangering the safety of self or other employees, including the provocation or instigation of violence.
  • G. Consuming alcoholic beverages while on duty, except at approved University functions, or the possession or consumption of illegal drugs.
  • H. Abusive, threatening or coercive treatment of another employee, student or member of the public.
  • I. 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.
  • J. Knowingly admitting an unauthorized person or persons into any locked or restricted building or area of the campus.
  • K. 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.

  • A. Excessive absenteeism.
  • B. Excessive tardiness.
  • C. 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.
  • D. Posting unauthorized materials on walls or bulletin boards; defacing or removing authorized material from bulletin boards.
  • E. Violation of a safety rule or safety practice.
  • F. Smoking in prohibited areas.
  • G. 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.
  • H. Vending, soliciting or collecting contributions on the University's time or premises without prior appropriate authorization from the University.
  • I. Gambling, lottery, or any other game of chance on the employer's premises during working hours.
  • J. Any other offense of equal magnitude to the above.

Confidential information

Please refer to Western Michigan University's Confidential Information Policy (09-10):



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


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

Sexual misconduct

The sexual misconduct policy is available via 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.

  • Causing physical injury to another person.
  • Making threats of any kind.
  • Aggressive, hostile or violent behavior, such as intimidation of others; attempts to instill fear in others; or subjecting others to emotional distress.
  • Other behavior which suggests a propensity toward violence, which may include belligerent speech, excessive arguing or swearing, sabotage or threats of sabotage of University property, or a demonstrated pattern of refusing to follow University policies and procedures.
  • Intentionally damaging University property or property of another employee, student or member of the public.
  • Possession of a weapon while on University property or while on University business, with the exceptions indicated in the weapons policy.
  • Committing acts motivated by, or related to, sexual harassment or domestic violence.

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.


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.

  • Reports can be made anonymously and all reported incidents will be investigated.
  • Reports or incidents warranting confidentiality will be handled appropriately and information will be disclosed to others only on a need-to-know basis.
  • Employees who have obtained restraining orders or personal protection orders, which include the University campus as a protected area, should immediately provide a copy of the order to the Department of Public Safety.

Enforcement and discipline

Upon notification to the Department of 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, the Department of Public Safety, the employee assistance program, the 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.

Tobacco-free campus policy

The tobacco-free campus 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.


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.

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