Section 5 - Conditions of Employment


SCOPE: STAFF Issued: 4/1/00

Revised: 4/6/18; 11/30/2020

1. Policy: It is the policy of Lamar University that supervisory efforts should be concentrated on the prevention of serious personnel problems rather than on disciplining employees for misconduct. If performance review measures are imposed, it is essential that each problem be investigated so that the facts of the situation are known; that an action taken be primarily corrective rather than punitive and be appropriate to the offense, and that the dignity of the employee be respected. Disciplinary action is designed to correct, not punish. An employee being reviewed should be told what he/she has done wrong, and should clearly understand what is expected of him/her. He/she should be given a reasonable period of time to improve his/her performance or correct his/her actions or behavior, except in cases of discharge. An employee may be discharged when reasonable corrective or rehabilitative methods have failed, or when the nature of the violation warrants immediate separation or when in the judgment of the employee’s supervisors the best interests of the department or institution would be best served by discharge. Supervisors shall have the right to summarily discharge an employee for cause or not.

2. Policy Application: This policy applies to all regular staff. This policy and procedure shall be applied without regard for race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. The policy and procedure herein established do not apply to dismissal during the probationary period. At any time during the probationary period, an employee may be terminated without recourse to the grievance policy. The University makes initial appointments on a six (6) month probationary basis. (See 5.5 for Administrative Officers).

3. Definitions of Minor Violations: Rule violations of a minor nature have little effect on the continuity, efficiency, and safety of University work, but cannot be tolerated if repeated. The following are a few examples of what may be termed minor rule violations that can result in either verbal or written performance reminders being entered into an employee's record. Continuation of an offense can result in stronger performance enhancing action. This list is in no way all inclusive.

  • Unexplained, inexcusable, or unauthorized absence or tardiness.
  • Failure to notify supervisor as soon as possible on first day of absence. 
  • Failure to observe assigned work schedules (starting time, quitting times, rest and lunch periods). 
  • Soliciting or collecting contributions for any purpose on University premises without management permission. 
  • Selling or offering for sale any article or service without management permission.

Unsatisfactory work performance.

  • Loafing or other abuse of time during assigned working hours.
  • Interfering with an employee's work performance or duties by talking or other distractions. 
  • Distributing written or printed matter of any description on University premises without management permission. 
  • Leaving regularly assigned work location during normal working hours without notifying immediate supervisor. 
  • Violations of confidentiality which do not significantly affect the operation of the University or the operation of the department/division. 
  • Performing unauthorized personal work on University time. 
  • Defacing bulletin boards or notices posted thereon. 
  • Violations of safety rules. 
  • Failure to maintain time card or record card as instructed. 
  • Discourteous treatment of the public, students or other employees.
  • Improper political activity of a minor nature. 
  • Behavior or activity on or off campus that is of such nature to cause discredit or embarrassment of the University, except constitutionally protected activities. 
  • Violation of internal department work rules. 
  • Engaging in excessive visiting, personal conversations, or using the telephone or computer for personal use.
  • Accepting any gifts or favors which influence or tend to influence performance of duties or the granting of services or favors of other University personnel, applicants, clients, or other persons. 
  • Failure to follow any reasonable instructions issued by supervisor related to performing of tasks and/or job duties. 
  • Smoking in any University building or official vehicle.

Corrections for minor violations will remain active in nature for two (2) years. Accumulation of 3 or more active corrections will automatically move the corrections into the major violation category. Active corrections may be of different violations.

4. Definitions of Major Rule Violations: Major offenses are any continued failure to perform assigned workload, willful, deliberate, or negligent acts or violations of University policies or rules of such a degree that continued employment of the offending individual may not be desirable. The following are examples of some offenses that may subject an employee to a performance or disciplinary probation, demotion, decision making leave (suspension) or discharge. Severity of the offense or degree of inability to perform will determine the level of performance review or discipline. Performance or disciplinary probation, demotion, decision making leave (suspension), or termination must have the approval of the Director of Human Resources. In cases of demotion, decision making leave (suspension) or termination, the Director of Human Resources may hold a hearing with the employee and supervisor prior to giving approval for action. This list is in no way inclusive of all possible violations.

  • Any act which might endanger the health, safety, or lives of himself/herself or others.
  • Refusal to perform work properly assigned by a supervisor. 
  • Willful, deliberate, or repeated violations of University rules. 
  • Willful, deliberate, or repeated violations of safety rules. 
  • Willfully falsifying any University records. 
  • Completing the time card for another employee or allowing his/hers to be completed by another employee. 
  • Violating the speech and assembly provisions of the TSUS Rules and Regulations. In the interest of protecting the expressive activity rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, Texas Education Code § 51.9315(k), an employee who obstructs or disrupts any activity authorized to be held on a campus shall be subject to dismissal as an employee (TSUS Rules and Regulations, Chapter V, Subparagraph 2.133). 
  • Leaving University premises during working hours without permission from the supervisor. 
  • Deliberately or negligently abusing, destroying, damaging, or defacing University property, tools, equipment, or the property of others on University premises. 
  • Gambling on University premises. 
  • Deliberately delaying or restricting work, or inciting others to delay or restrict work. 
  • Fighting on University premises (any employee directly involved). 
  • Bringing liquor, marijuana, or narcotics onto the University campus; or consuming liquor or using marijuana or narcotics on University premises; or reporting for duty under the influence of liquor, marijuana, or narcotics. The same applies to any habit-forming or controlled substance not prescribed by a physician. (See Drug Policy) 
  • Carrying firearms or other dangerous weapons on University premises. 
  • Failure to return to work on expiration of vacation or leave of absence, or when called back after a layoff. 
  • Disclosure of confidential University information to unauthorized persons. 
  • Theft, misappropriation or unauthorized use of University funds or property, or other dishonest actions. 
  • Continued unsatisfactory work performance. 
  • Unexplained, inexcusable, or unauthorized leave for more than three days. 
  • Continued absences or excessive tardiness. 
  • Violation or internal department work rules, breaches of confidentiality which severely impacts the University or the operation of the department/division. 
  • Insubordination or willful disobedience. 
  • Abusive, unruly, indecent or obscene conduct. 
  • Conviction of a felony or conviction of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.
  • Improper political activity on campus. 
  • Behavior or activity on or off campus while representing the University that is of such nature to cause discredit or embarrassment to the University. 
  • Flagrant or repeated minor rule violations. 
  • If a coach or staff member, being found to have been knowingly involved in violations of material provisions of NCAA rules. (National Collegiate Athletic Association).

5. Should questions arise over determination of major or minor classification, the Director of Human Resources or the appropriate Vice President will make that decision.

6. Corrective Reviews: For repeated incidents of substandard performance, misconduct, or rule violations the performance review should be progressive. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to remind orally and coach the employee’s performance to avoid the Corrective Review. The normal sequence of action in the Corrective Review process is (1) Oral/Written Reminder (2) Written Reminder/ Probation; (3) Decision Making Leave; (4) Discharge/ Demotion. Depending on the severity of the case, the action may begin at any of these stages or move beyond any one. Any action involving probation, decision making leave (suspension), demotion, or discharge must be reviewed by the Director of Human Resources or designee to insure that these disciplinary actions are reviewed for compliance with EEO rules and regulations.

6.1 Oral Reminders: Normally, initial performance review should be in the form of an oral discussion and reminders of the employee’s responsibility, especially for minor rule violations. If it appears that an employee has failed to perform his/her work or conduct himself/herself according to requirements, the supervisor should first talk to the employee about the matter, affording the employee an opportunity to tell his/her side of the incident. If facts indicate that the employee may have been at fault, the supervisor should discuss the matter with him/her. If the supervisor wishes, he/she may call on another supervisor to be present as a witness. The employee should clearly understand the gravity of the action and that the reminder is an opportunity to correct his/her actions. The responsibility for the ―correction‖ becomes the employee’s. Supervisors should maintain a complete and accurate written documentation of the reminder.

6.2 Written Reminder: Written Reminder involves both a formal interview with the employee by the supervisor, and an official memorandum to him/her emphasizing the failure of the employee to fulfill his/her responsibilities to his/her job and/or co-workers and the negative effect on his/her record and his/her opportunities for advancement. If the immediate supervisor does not have the authority to discharge, then such an interview should not occur until the supervisor with that level of authority has been notified. A written reminder should include: names of everyone involved, dates, description of the unsatisfactory performance or behavior, witness (if any), and action taken. Reference should also include the dates and results of prior oral reminders or other written reminder(s). It should be signed by the reminding official. It should also bear the employee's comments, if any, and his/her signature. The employee should be informed that his/her signature indicates he/she has received the reminder, but not necessarily that he/she agrees with its contents. If the employee refuses to sign the reminder, a witness, preferably another supervisor should verify that the employee has received the reminder and refused to sign an acknowledgment. A copy of the written reminder should be sent to the Director of Human Resources to be filed in the employee's permanent file.

6.3 Performance/Disciplinary Probation: A performance/disciplinary probation involves both a formal interview with the employee by the supervisor with hire/terminate authority, and an official memorandum emphasizing the failure of the employee to fulfill his/her responsibilities. The performance/disciplinary probation may be imposed with the written reminder. The written document should include:

6.3.1 A description of the failure to perform or inappropriate conduct, witnesses (if any), dates, and record of previous reminders.

6.3.2 An identification or description of appropriate performance of the employee’s responsibilities or conduct. This will be used as the standard by which the employee’s acceptance of his/her responsibility or conduct will be measured during the ensuing probationary period, and a review day at the end of the probationary period.

6.3.3 A warning of possible further action if the performance/behavior remains unchanged.

6.3.4 Signatures of the department supervisor/manager and the employee. The employee should be given the opportunity to comment and be made aware that his/her signature indicates receipt of the document but not necessarily agreement.

The probationary period should not exceed six (6) months and a formal review must conclude the probationary period. Intermittent reviews are suggested. If at any time the supervisor determines that the employee’s behavior/performance is not improving, the supervisor may elect to move into a more severe level of discipline.

The letter of probation must be sent to the Director of Human Resources to be filed in the employee's permanent file. A copy of the formal review at the conclusion of the probation should be sent to the Director of Human Resources.

6.4 Demotion: Demotion shall mean removal to a lesser position with less authority and responsibility. Salary shall be consistent with the new position's salary group. At no time shall the salary be higher than the previous position.

6.5 Decision Making Leave (Suspension): "Decision Making Leave (suspension)" is time away from the job which is designed to allow the employee the opportunity to make a decision regarding his/her future performance/employment with the University. During this time the employee must decide between submitting a resignation or submitting an action plan to correct his/her deficient behavior/performance.

A supervisor with authority to discharge has authority to suspend with or without pay. Normally, Decision Making Leave will be one day with pay. Before action is taken, the immediate supervisor must discuss the situation with his/her supervisor, the Director of Human Resources, and the employee. The employee should be counseled and given an opportunity to present his/her perspective. If the employee’s explanation is not acceptable to the supervisor, the employee should be presented with a statement indicating the reasons for the Decision Making Leave and the number of days with or without pay. Suspension without pay involves removal from the payroll for a specified period of time. The supervisor who has discharge authority must forward an F3.2 through the Office of Human Resources to Payroll.
At the end of the Decision Making Leave period, if the employee wants to continue in his/her current position, he/she must present to the supervisor an action plan, acceptable to the supervisor, to correct his/her behavior or job performance. If the plan is not accepted by the supervisor, the employee will be terminated. If the plan is acceptable to the supervisor, a period of probation will be established and reviews will be made to determine if the employee is fulfilling his/her action plan.

Upon return from Decision Making Leave, if the employee does not wish to continue in his/her position, the employee must present a written resignation to the supervisor and complete the exit interview with the Office of Human Resources. This will be a voluntary termination.

If it is in the best interest of the University, the employee may be placed on Administrative leave pending an investigation and decision regarding the extent of disciplinary action to be taken, if any.

6.6 Discharge or Release: In the case of other than serious or repeated offenses, release from employment should be a last resort. When it becomes necessary to release an employee, he/she, in effect, will have released himself/herself by the record he/she has established. The supervisor/manager who has the authority to employ also has the authority to discharge. Since the most extreme disciplinary measure is discharge, before the discharge, the first-line supervisor or management official who initiates this action must review the decision and the supporting documentation with the Director of Human Resources. Since discharge requires prior consultation and approval, it should not be done "on the spot." If the management official feels it is improper to leave the employee on duty until the investigation or review by the Director of Human Resources can be completed, he/she should seek approval from the appropriate vice president to place the employee on administrative leave. This allows time for an investigation.

6.7 In extremely serious cases involving unruly behavior, violence or threat of violence, or imminent danger to personal safety or property, the Police Department should be notified immediately. The supervisor and Police Department will determine the need for immediate arrest or removal from University property of an employee. This may include collecting all University property from the employee. This should be considered an immediate suspension and may warrant proceeding with the discharge process.

7. Alternative Disciplinary Actions: Other forms of disciplinary action may be appropriate in some cases. These may include making up lost time, docking, withholding salary increases, transfer to more suitable work, or compensating the University for damage. With the exception of making up lost time and docking, these alternative disciplinary actions must be reviewed by the Director of Human Resources before they are initiated.

8. Discharge: Any employee being discharged under the provisions of this policy normally shall not be allowed to terminate his/her employment voluntarily, unless he/she does so prior to notification of the discharge. The official personnel record will reflect that the employee was discharged or resigned during pending disciplinary action. This is required because of rehire policies, possible legal actions, unemployment compensation liability, etc.

9. Involuntary Terminations Other Than Discharge: It is not the intent of this policy to prohibit, or in any way restrict, the University and its administrative officials from the right to terminate any employee under the employment at will policy established by the Board of Regents. An employee so terminated shall not have recourse through this policy. However, an employee may utilize the appeal procedure. Examples of termination for nondisciplinary reasons include, but are not necessarily limited to, reduction in force due to lack of work or funds, due to redesigning jobs and changes in the organizational structure, and due to compliance with University or TSUS policies and rules (e.g., retirement, nepotism, etc.)

10. Employee Notification: Notice of (1) disciplinary probation, (2) demotion, (3) Decision Making Leave/suspension, (4) dismissal from employment shall be given to the affected staff employee in writing with a copy to be filed in the Office of University Human Resources. In situations requiring immediate action by the supervisor, such notice must be given in person but in such cases, a follow-up written notice must be given in person or by Certified Mail --Return Receipt Requested as soon as possible thereafter.