Disciplinary Concerns

Taking Disciplinary Action

If an employee violates a University policy or rule or is not meeting performance requirements, has been insubordinate, or has engaged in conduct affecting the workplace and/or other employees or students, a supervisor may take disciplinary action.

It is recommended that a supervisor discuss the proposed corrective action with Employee Relations in the Office of Human Resources to ensure appropriate applicability, documentation, and procedure. 

There are four levels of discipline which may be applied, at the discretion of a supervisor: 


An oral or written warning may be given in cases where a problem occurs meriting corrective action. This is considered a departmental matter, with records remaining in the department. This action, therefore, is not subject to the Formal Complaint Procedure.

Written Disciplinary Action Guidelines

Written disciplinary action is a formal statement which becomes part of an employee's permanent personnel file. This action may be taken when a supervisor determines that an employee has not responded to a verbal warning or when the severity of a particular offense or incident warrants written disciplinary action.

The statement should describe the specific circumstances which prompted the disciplinary letter, the plan of action to correct and resolve the situation, the time period in which the employee must implement the necessary steps for corrective action, and the consequences for failure to resolve the problem. In some instances, remediation may not be an appropriate or desired course of action.

When the disciplinary action is suspension or dismissal, reasons for the suspension or dismissal should be provided in a letter of suspension or termination to the employee, normally to be reviewed by the Employee Relations Section of the Office of Human Resources prior to notification of suspension or dismissal.

The following require written statements:

Written Reprimand

A written reprimand is a formal statement which becomes part of an employee's permanent personnel file. Examples of problems which may result in a written reprimand include but are not limited to disruptions in the workplace, failure to follow proper work procedure or business practice, or where problems could lead to suspension or dismissal if repeated.


Suspension may be imposed when an employee has failed to perform to acceptable standards following a warning or other departmental disciplinary action, or for other serious infractions as determined by departmental supervision. Suspension may also be imposed when there is a need to remove the employee from the workplace while an investigation is conducted or to protect the health, safety, or welfare of others.


Dismissal may be imposed when the problem is so serious that no other course of action is appropriate. Dismissal also may be imposed after all other courses of action have been attempted, or there is no expectation of future improvement. However, it should be noted that dismissal may occur for reasons not related to disciplinary action as Pennsylvania is an employment-at-will state.

The following examples illustrate situations which could result in immediate suspension or termination of employment; however, there are other circumstances not listed here which may result in immediate suspension and/or termination of employment.

  • Possessing or consuming intoxicants while on the job or violation of the University's Drug and/or Alcohol Policies.
  • Possessing unlawful drugs or being under the influence of intoxicants or unlawful drugs while at work.
  • Theft, wrongful conversion or unauthorized use of funds or property of the University, its faculty, staff, students or its vendors.
  • Falsification of documents or records, including employment documents.
  • Insubordination, including refusal to carry out work-related instructions or tasks.
  • Disruptive or harassing conduct such as the use of or threat of violence, horseplay, practical jokes, physical abuse, or unlawful discrimination.
  • Any conduct reasonably understood to be detrimental to the University's interests.
  • Destruction, alteration, abuse, or waste of University, or other's property.
  • Intentionally or repeatedly creating unsafe work incidents or practices.
  • Possession of weapons or explosives, or violation of criminal laws on University premises.
  • Violence or the threat of violence, including, without limitation, scuffling or throwing objects.
  • Leaving work before the end of the designated work hours without permission.
  • Threatening or intimidating students, supervisors, other staff or faculty. Abusive, demeaning, profane or threatening language to anyone.
  • Offering, accepting or seeking personal favors, money or other valuable consideration in exchange for a job, a better working assignment or any advantage in working conditions.
  • Off-duty misconduct that renders the staff member unavailable for work.
  • Any grossly negligent or willful acts which result in personal injury, property damage, or loss to the University.