(A)   Policy statement.
      (1)   The principal objective of any employer disciplinary action shall be to improve the performance, efficiency and morale of the city service. Any action that reflects discredit on the service hinders the effective performance of city government functions.
      (2)   The policy of the city is that employee discipline be corrective, progressive and lawful.
         (a)   Corrective in the sense that the supervisor comes to an understanding of the causes and/or reasons for an employee’s deficiencies, and attempts to correct those deficiencies and restore the employee to a productive and positive employment status.
         (b)   Progressive in that discipline will normally begin with an oral reprimand or warning and, when circumstances warrant, may proceed to written reprimand, suspension from work without pay or demotion in status and finally to discharge from employment with the city. A severe incident of misconduct may require severe disciplinary measures such as termination, without previous forms of disciplinary action. Progressive discipline for misconduct may include:
            1.   Counseling or education;
            2.   Verbal warning;
            3.   Written warning;
            4.   Suspension;
            5.   Demotion; and
            6.   Termination.
         (c)   Lawful in that discipline and the procedure by which it is administered do not violate the employee’s civil rights.
   (B)   General principles of progressively applying discipline.
      (1)   The supervisor shall:
         (a)   Have a thorough knowledge of work rules;
         (b)   Understand the reasons for each rule;
         (c)   Make sure that all employees know and understand the rules; and
         (d)   Follow through and administer the rules fairly and uniformly for all employees under their supervision.
      (2)   Before any disciplinary action is taken against an employee, the supervisor must determine the following:
         (a)   What rule was violated?
         (b)   Who was involved?
         (c)   When did the violation or deficiency occur?
         (d)   Who were the witnesses, if any?
         (e)   What is the past record of the employee (length of service as well as previous violations should be considered)?
   (C)   Disciplinary correspondence. It will often be appropriate for a supervisor to communicate in writing with an employee who is being disciplined. CORRESPONDENCE in this process means formal memos or letters to an employee with a copy to the city’s personnel files. This meaning of “correspondence” does not apply to the supervisor’s notes for their own use. The supervisor shall:
      (1)   Make sure the written disciplinary message is clearly communicated. The employee being disciplined must clearly understand the action taken, the point at issue, the rule or policy being violated and the like;
      (2)   Make sure that the written message received by the employee clearly states both the constructive (e.g., he or she must improve, and these are the steps he or she must follow to achieve that improvement) and the progressive (e.g., failure to improve shall warrant more severe discipline) aspects of this disciplinary process; and
      (3)   Keep all disciplinary correspondence confined to the issue at hand and to the employee involved.
   (D)   Minor disciplinary action/oral warnings and reprimands. The warning should be given in a calm, constructive manner. It is intended to be instructive. Good supervisory practice promptly informs an employee when performance is substandard. Following are some recommended, but not required, procedures for applying progressive discipline by oral warning and reprimanding:
      (1)   Get all the facts about the incident as soon as possible;
      (2)   Warn the employee in private, never in front of others;
      (3)   Don’t use sarcasm or ridicule;
      (4)   Fit the warning to the employee’s performance deficiency and not to the employee’s personal attributes;
      (5)   Outline the facts to the employee as he or she has found them;
      (6)   Ask the employee to explain his or her view of the issue or error; and
      (7)   The warning should begin and end on a friendly note. Let the employee know when the incident is closed.
   (E)   Due process for major disciplinary action/suspension without pay, dismissal, demotion. Before initiating this process, the supervisor shall consult with the city’s legal counsel. Write a letter to the employee that includes the following elements:
      (1)   Factual allegations and the citation of the appropriate standard or rule violated;
      (2)   Sanctions under consideration (such as suspension or discharge);
      (3)   The employee’s opportunity to challenge the allegations by filing a written response including any affidavits by a specified time and date (two city business days minimum in the case of discharge);
      (4)   Inform the employee of the opportunity for a formal meeting with the supervisor at a specific time, place and date (usually one day after the written response is due), during which the employee may verbally respond to the issues raised; and
      (5)   A date by which the supervisor will make a decision and when it will be communicated to the employee.
   (F)   Disciplinary suspensions. When an employee is suspended without pay, due process is required. A supervisor will maintain the discipline of the work force, but must insure the methods employed take into account the employee’s claim to civil rights. In the event of a serious problem or very disruptive employee behavior, it may be necessary to suspend an employee during the course of a work day. A suspension will be with pay until the due process requirements are met, generally not more than one work shift. A letter communicating the discipline being considered and covering the due process requirements must precede any suspension without pay. The employee will not lose benefits or accruals during this period of suspension.
   (G)   Discharge from employment. It is city policy that no regular employee who has successfully completed the entry probationary period be discharged without being given an opportunity to respond to the charges brought against them. This means that even in the severest instance, the employee is to be suspended with pay pending this opportunity to be heard and will be allowed to respond to the charges made.
   (H)   Due process interview (formal meeting).
      (1)   The employee has been notified of an alleged violation of departmental and city rules, informed that the nature of the alleged offense might warrant discharge and has been given a time, date and place to respond formally on the issue.
      (2)   This is the meeting to get the final information upon which the decision whether to discipline will be based. Because of this, this is the one instance in the supervisor/subordinate relationship in which the employee may have a representative present if he or she so wishes. Either party may bring witnesses to testify on particular facts.
      (3)   If the employee brings a representative (or an attorney) to the meeting or requests permission to do so, the supervisor may not deny the request. However, if this occurs, another management person should be present during the meeting to avoid a “two-on-one” situation such as a higher-level supervisor or an individual appointed by the City Council.
      (4)   If the employee brings a representative to the meeting, inform the representative that he or she is free to consult with the employee, and the employee, or the representative, may be required to respond to the allegations. If the meeting becomes quarrelsome, temporarily halt the meeting and schedule a time to reconvene. Seek help from other city resources, if necessary to resolve the difficulty.
      (5)   Make thorough notes during the interview; read the notes back to the employee to ensure that the employee agrees on the substance of the response to be considered prior to making the final decision.
   (I)   Notify the employee of the decision.
      (1)   Having established a date, place and time to inform the employee of the final decision, the supervisor needs to commit the decision to writing. That letter must include:
         (a)   A restatement of the allegations and the rule(s) violated;
         (b)   A confirmation and acknowledgment that the information tendered during the interview with the employee has been considered;
         (c)   A statement of the disciplinary decision;
         (d)   In the case of a suspension, note the consequences of repeated violation (for example discharge); and
         (e)   An instruction to the employee of their right to initiate a grievance procedure.
      (2)   As in all letters of this nature, the employee must acknowledge receipt of the letter. If the employee refuses to sign the acknowledgment, the supervisor shall write “employee refused to sign” and the supervisor should sign and date. Disciplinary decisions are communicated “face to face” with the employee; however, the above-described letter is required to document the resolution of the process.
   (J)   Appeals. A regular employee shall have the right to appeal disciplinary action taken against them within ten business days after the effective date of disciplinary action. Appeals are “grievances” that are to be made in accordance with the provisions of § 32.053 of this chapter.
(Res. 2010-23, passed 11-4-2010)