What is Discipline?
Article 22. 2 of the contract is the Definition of Discipline. Discipline is defined as any action which will result in the involuntary reduction in hours, involuntary reduction in compensation, involuntary reduction in classification/demotion, involuntary reassignment, suspension, or dismissal of a bargaining unit member with permanent status. All discipline must be reasonable, timely, and related in severity to the seriousness of the offense.
What Happens Before Discipline?
In most cases, the employee will receive a series of escalating actions that will lead to discipline if the employee does not correct deficiencies. This is known as Progressive Discipline. In most circumstances, the following sequence of steps shall be followed to provide progression of corrective and disciplinary actions for permanent employees:
1. Informal conference(s) will be held between the supervisor and the employee to discuss performance standards and behaviors expected on the job and feedback on any problems regarding job performance or behavior.
2. Verbal warning will be given, at a meeting with the employee, if the performance has not improved or the previously discussed behavior has not been corrected. The supervisor providing the verbal warning should clarify expectations and attempt to foster increased understanding of the established standards of performance, and/or behavior.
3. Written warning(s) will be given if the unsatisfactory performance or behavior persists. The written warning(s) will be presented in a meeting with the employee, unless the employee is absent for an extended period of time, the written warning will outline the performance or behavioral issues, clearly state expectations relating to performance and/or behaviors, and indicate that failure to improve may result in future discipline.
4. Written reprimand(s) will be given when there is an insufficient level of improvement following previous discussion(s) and warning(s). The reprimand will outline the concerns, expectations, provide direction, and state future disciplinary consequences, should the concerns continue. The written reprimand will be placed in the employee’s personnel file. Prior to the reprimand being placed in the file, the employee will have the opportunity to attach a written response to the reprimand within ten (10) days.
Employees have the right to request union representation during disciplinary conferences.
Know Your Weingarten Rights
You have the right to have a union representative at any meeting or investigatory interview with a supervisor or administrator that you reasonably believe might lead to discipline. These are called your Weingarten Rights, named after a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision. Your supervisor does not have to notify you of your right to union representation — you must assert your Weingarten Rights. This applies to everyone who works in a unionized workplace, whether public or private.
If you are told to attend a meeting with your supervisor, ask what the topic will be. If it sounds to you as if it might lead to discipline, contact your union and ask for a representative to accompany you. Or, if you are in a meeting with your supervisor and the direction turns toward reprimand, say that you would like to reschedule the meeting to allow you to have a union rep present. If the supervisor refuses, explain that you prefer not to answer questions, but that you will if directly ordered to do so.
To assert your Weingarten Rights, say "If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined, terminated, or could affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative be present."
How Your Union Representative Can Help
Disciplinary investigations can be stressful and emotional experiences, especially if you have never faced discipline or been the subject of an investigation before. Your CFCE representative has experience in representing employees in these meetings and can assist you in the meeting. Under Redwoods Community College District (PERB No. 293), 1983), your CFCE representative has a right to actively participate in a disciplinary investigation. This means that you can ask for a break to consult with your union representative and that your representative may speak during the meeting. You will be directed to answer questions, but your union representative will make sure that your are treated respectfully during the investigation.
Know Your Skelly Rights
Permanent classified employees have a “property interest” in their jobs which requires the district to comply with “due process” elements before imposing discipline. These basic rights include: notice of the charges, a right to respond orally and/or in writing and the right to representation.
Under Education Code Section 88016, classified employees have the right to be notified in writing of the charges against them. The document must set forth the “cause” for which the action is taken, and “…in ordinary and concise language, the specific acts or omissions upon which the disciplinary action is based…”
• Under Education Code Section 45113 (88013), classified employees can not be subject to acts that occurred while the employee was on probation or that are over two (2) years old. This standard automatically exists in non-merit districts but can be negotiated in merit system districts.
The governing board’s management agents propose the disciplinary action, providing the employee with written charges and five (5) days to request a hearing. The Governing Board may hear the case or the parties may delegate the hearing to a hearing officer or arbitrator but “… the governing board’s determination of the sufficiency of cause for disciplinary action shall be conclusive.”