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Disciplinary Procedures and Sanctions for Administrators and Staff

Employment


PDF Version: HR Discipline Policy


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Policy Statement 
  4. Related Information
  5. Policy History

I. Introduction

  1. Authority: C.R.S. § 23-54-102, et seq. (2019) authorizes the Trustees of Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) to establish rules and regulations to govern and operate the University and its programs. The Trustees retain authority to approve, interpret, and administer policies pertaining to University governance. The Trustees authorize the President of MSU Denver to approve, administer, and interpret policies pertaining to University operations.

  2. Purpose: This policy addresses disciplinary procedures, sanctions and appeal rights for University administrators and staff.

  3. Scope: This policy applies to University administrators and staff exempted from the State of Colorado personnel system in accordance with C.R.S. § 24-50-135.

II. Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Responsible Executive: Chief Operations Officer

  2. Responsible Administrator: Chief Human Resources Officer

  3. Responsible Office: Human Resources Office

  4. Policy Contact: Chief Human Resources Officer, 303-615-0999

III. Policy Statement

  1. Disciplinary Procedures

    1. Coordination with Grievance Procedures

      1. Grievance procedures have been adopted by the University to review allegations that professional personnel violated institutional rules prohibiting unlawful discrimination, including sexual harassment.
      2. To avoid duplicative proceedings and the risk of inconsistent decision, affirmative action grievance proceedings that satisfy constitutional due process requirements shall constitute the preliminary and review steps in this procedure.
      3. The President may impose any of the disciplinary sanctions authorized in this policy except termination for cause on a professional determined pursuant to such an institutional affirmative action grievance proceeding to have violated University anti-discrimination policies. Should the affirmative action grievance proceeding result in a recommendation of termination for cause, the President may commence a termination proceeding in accordance with the University's termination policy.
      4. An appealable sanction imposed by the President under this paragraph may be appealed to the Trustees within ten working days of receipt of the President’s decision.

    2. Preliminary Investigation (Non-Affirmative Action Matters)

      1. Following the receipt of a complaint or other information that a professional has engaged in unprofessional conduct, the President, in the President's sole discretion, may appoint an investigatory committee or individual to investigate the allegations or may dismiss the matter without further proceedings.
        1. The investigatory committee or investigator should interview the complainant (if any), the professional, and other persons who may have relevant information and review any relevant documentary evidence contained in University files or provided by any person.
        2. The investigatory committee or investigator shall prepare and deliver to the President a written report summarizing the investigation and the information received from interviews and other sources.
      2. If the President deems that further review is warranted or that disciplinary action may be appropriate, the President shall either refer the matter to a campus ethics committee for a hearing or meet with the professional.
      3. If the President deems that further investigation is not warranted and that disciplinary action is not appropriate, the President may either dismiss or suggest appropriate non-disciplinary action to resolve the matter.

    3. Review of Preliminary Investigation. The preliminary investigation shall be reviewed in a campus ethics committee hearing or a presidential meeting with the professional.

      1. Campus Ethics Committee Hearing
        1. A campus ethics committee responsible for reviewing allegations of unprofessional conduct may be a standing or ad hoc institutional committee.
        2. The campus ethics committee shall be convened and hold hearings in accordance with published institutional procedures which shall afford the professional the same due process safeguards as those afforded by the Hearing Officer hearing and appeal procedure.
        3. The campus ethics committee shall conduct a hearing on the matter referred to it, make a record of the hearing, and transmit its findings and recommendations to the President.
        4. Within ten working days of receipt of the findings and recommendations of the campus ethics committee, the President shall decide whether the professional engaged in unprofessional conduct and, if so, shall impose an appropriate disciplinary sanction.
        5. An appealable sanction imposed by the President after a campus ethics committee hearing may be appealed to the Trustees within ten working days of receipt of the President’s decision.
      2. Presidential Meeting with the Professional. In the meeting with the President, the professional shall be given an opportunity to admit or rebut the charges and the statements or other information contained in the report and/or to present information regarding mitigating circumstances or affirmative defenses. This meeting is not a formal hearing, but an opportunity for the President and the professional to exchange information. The following provisions shall govern the meeting:
        1. The professional shall be given written notice of the possible need to take disciplinary action fixing the date, time and place of the meeting with the President. The notice shall describe the charge(s) of unprofessional conduct and factual bases therefore, identify the witness(es) upon whose information and/or testimony the charges are based and describe the sanctions that may be imposed for the alleged unprofessional conduct. A copy of the investigative report shall be included with the notice. The notice shall be given at least ten working days prior to the meeting either by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by hand delivery. The professional may submit a written response to the President at or before the meeting.
        2. The President and the professional may each designate a representative to attend the meeting. Non-attorney representatives may participate in the meeting. Attorney representatives may not participate in the meeting but may confer with and advise their clients during the meeting.
        3. The President shall consider all written and oral information presented by the professional before deciding whether to take disciplinary action.
        4. Statements made at the meeting, including the written response submitted by the professional (if any), shall be admissible in evidence in any subsequent proceeding.
        5. Within ten working days after meeting with the professional (or if the professional fails or refuses to attend the meeting, within ten working days after the scheduled date of the meeting), the President shall decide whether the professional engaged in unprofessional conduct and, if so, shall impose an appropriate disciplinary sanction.
        6. An appealable sanction imposed by the President after a meeting with the professional may be appealed to a Hearing Officer within ten working days of receipt of the President’s decision.

    4. The President’s Decision. In making this decision, the President shall consider the investigative report, written or oral information presented by the professional, and the findings and recommendations of the hearing committee, as applicable.

      1. If the President decides to terminate the professional on one or more of the grounds set forth in this policy, termination proceedings shall be commenced in accordance with the University's termination policies. However, the President, in the President's sole discretion, may commence termination proceedings without first following the procedures set forth in this policy.
      2. Other Sanctions. If disciplinary action is taken, the President shall notify the professional thereof either by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by a hand-delivered notice. The notice shall specify the unprofessional conduct giving rise to the disciplinary action, shall summarize the information and/or testimony (including the identities of any informant(s) or witness(es)) on which the President relied in reaching the President's decision, and shall notify the professional of the disciplinary sanction to be imposed, the effective date of the sanction, and the professional’s right to appeal the action (if any).  Except as otherwise provided, the effective date of the disciplinary action and imposition of the sanction may precede the date on which the action becomes final. If the sanction is a written warning or a formal reprimand, the warning or reprimand shall accompany the notice.

    5. The Professional’s Right to Appeal a Disciplinary Action

      1. Appealable Sanctions. Sanctions which involve suspension, demotion, reassignment, reduction in salary, a reduction or denial of a salary increase or ineligibility to serve on official University bodies may be appealed as provided in the applicable appeal procedure.
      2. Termination proceedings shall be commenced and contested in accordance with the University's termination policies, as applicable, and shall not be otherwise appealable.
      3. Non-appealable Sanctions. Written warnings, formal written reprimands, and sanctions not specifically designated as appealable shall not be appealable. However, the professional may submit a written rebuttal or other response to a reprimand which shall be attached to the copy of the reprimand placed in the employee's personnel file and which shall be furnished to any person to whom the institution furnishes a copy of the reprimand.
      4. Final Action. If the professional chooses not to appeal an appealable sanction, the action and sanction shall become final without further proceedings or notice to the professional. An appeal shall not stay or delay the effective date of the sanction specified in the notice of the disciplinary action.

  2. Appeal Procedures

    1. Appeal to the Trustees

      1. A professional’s appeal to the Trustees shall be filed with the President and shall contain a statement of the reason for the appeal.
      2. The President shall promptly transmit the record of the grievance proceeding, the campus ethics committee’s findings, conclusions, report or recommendation, the President’s notice of disciplinary action and the professional’s statement of the reason for the appeal to the President.
      3. If the professional does not file a timely appeal, the President’s action shall become final without further notice or proceedings. If the professional files a timely appeal, the Trustees shall take action on the appeal. For purposes of such action, the committee’s findings, conclusions, report, or recommendation and the President’s notice of disciplinary action shall be the equivalent of the initial decision of a hearing officer.

    2. Appeal to a Hearing Officer

      1. An appeal to a Hearing Officer shall be accompanied by a short and specific statement giving the reason for the appeal. The application and statement shall be filed by delivering them in writing to the Office of the President. If an application is untimely, the appeal shall be dismissed and the action and sanction shall become final without further proceedings or notice to the professional unless the President agrees to extend the filing deadline for good cause shown.
      2. After a timely application for a hearing before a hearing officer has been filed, the professional and the President shall select a hearing officer from among a panel of three individuals appointed biennially by the Trustees. The professional and the President shall each strike one name from the list and remaining person shall serve as the hearing officer. The selection shall be completed within five working days from the date the application was delivered.
      3. The cost of the hearing including the hearing officer’s fee and expenses shall be borne by the University except that the professional and the University shall each be responsible for expenses incurred at their individual requests during the appeal process such as expenses for transcripts, witnesses and attorney fees.
      4. The hearing shall be governed by the following guidelines:
        1. The professional is entitled to representation by an attorney of his or her choice at his or her own expense.
        2. The President is entitled to representation by an assistant attorney general or special assistant attorney general.
        3. After consultation with the parties, the hearing officer shall notify them of the date, time and place of the hearing. The hearing officer shall attempt to schedule the hearing for a date no later than 20 working days following the hearing officer's selection.
        4. The notice of disciplinary action and the professional’s statement of the reason for the appeal shall be deemed to be the pleadings for purposes of the hearing. The President has the burdens of production and persuasion by a preponderance of the evidence with respect to the unprofessional conduct on which the disciplinary action is based. The professional has the burdens of production and persuasion by a preponderance of the evidence with respect to any mitigating circumstances, affirmative defenses, counterclaims or new matter asserted in the statement of the reason for the appeal. No evidence may be admitted at the hearing, which is not relevant either to the bases for the disciplinary action and/or sanction set forth in the notice or to an assertion in the statement of the reason for the appeal. The hearing shall be electronically recorded.
        5. As promptly as possible after the hearing, the hearing officer shall make findings of fact and conclusions and prepare a decision. If the hearing officer concludes that the professional engaged in unprofessional conduct, he or she may recommend a lesser sanction than that imposed by the President. The hearing officer’s decision shall be deemed to be an initial decision for purposes of review.
      5. The hearing officer shall transmit an initial decision, findings of fact and conclusions together with the record of the hearing (including the electronic recording) to the President and the professional.
      6. Either party may appeal the hearing officer’s initial decision to the Trustees. The notice of appeal together with a statement of the party’s specific exceptions to the hearing officer’s initial decision must be received in the office of the President within 15 working days after the date on which the decision was mailed to the parties unless the President extends the filing deadline for good cause shown. If the parties choose not to appeal or if the notice of appeal is not timely filed, the initial decision of the hearing officer shall become the final decision of the Trustees without further proceedings or notice to the parties.
      7. If either or both parties file timely notices of appeal, the Trustees shall, at their convenience, review and take action on the hearing officer’s initial decision in accordance with the provisions of Section C.R.S. §24-4-105(15), (16).
      8. The disciplinary action and sanction (or any modification(s) thereof) shall become final if and when it is adopted in the final decision of the Trustees.
      9. An order by the Trustees remanding an appeal to the hearing officer for such further proceedings as the Trustees may direct is not final action by the Trustees and is not subject to judicial review.
      10. A final decision by the Trustees affirming, setting aside or modifying the hearing officer’s initial decision is subject to such judicial review as may be provided by law. Judicial review shall not delay or stay the enforcement of any disciplinary sanction unless the court orders otherwise.
      11. The President may, at any time before a final decision is issued by the Trustees, rescind any disciplinary action or sanction by notifying the professional in writing that the action has been rescinded. In such event, any hearing or review proceedings pending with respect to that disciplinary action shall cease.

  3. Disciplinary Sanctions: The President may impose disciplinary sanctions for violations of the standards of professional conduct (hereafter “unprofessional conduct”), including, but not limited to:

    1. A written warning.
    2. A formal written reprimand placed in the professional’s personnel file.
    3. Counseling, participation in a rehabilitation program, remedial instruction, or other training to be paid for by the University or by the professional.
    4. Removal from and/or ineligibility to serve on University committees or other official University bodies for a period not to exceed one fiscal year for administrators and staff.
    5. Reassignment to other professional positions or different job duties, with or without a reduction in pay.
    6. Reduction in salary or a reduction or denial of a salary increase.
    7. Suspension with or without pay not to exceed one fiscal year. A suspension without pay exceeding five days or any other sanction resulting in a reduction in an employee's then current salary shall not take effect unless and until a disciplinary action becomes final.
    8. Termination for cause in accordance with the University's termination policies, as applicable, if the nature, gravity, and/or frequency of the unprofessional conduct justifies termination.

  4. Progressive Discipline not Required: The disciplinary sanctions listed in this Section need not be administered progressively. Two or more of the sanctions may be reasonably proportional to the nature, gravity, and/or frequency of the professional’s unprofessional conduct. Prior disciplinary actions may be taken into account in making this determination.

IV. Related Information

  1. Reassignment and Termination of Administrative Personnel

V. Policy History

  1. Effective: July 1, 2019

  2. Revised: This policy supersedes Chapter XVII of MSU Denver's Handbook for Professional Personnel, July 1, 2017; revised July 1, 2007.

  3. Enacted: February 2, 2005

  4. Review: This policy will be reviewed every three years or as deemed necessary by University leadership.

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