Progressive Discipline Policy

Effective Date

June 12, 2017

Last Revision Date

June, 2023 

Responsible Party

Human Resources


All non-faculty employees  


Marymount University (“University”) expects that all employees will act in accordance with the university policies. The purpose of this Policy is to establish guidelines and practices pertaining to corrective action and employee discipline for inappropriate conduct in the workplace.   

Policy Statement

The University believes in common sense, good judgment, and regard for the rights and interest of both the University and their coworkers. The University expects employees to adhere to high standards of personal conduct at all times. 

Progressive discipline is a process intended to correct inappropriate employee behaviors or  violations of the University policy and to ensure a good and safe environment for our students and employees. The University has the right to discipline, suspend, or terminate an employee for reasons listed under the groups of offenses listed below and further actions that may not be explicitly listed below.

Virginia is a “right to work state” and therefore non-faculty employees are at-will, and their employment can be terminated at any time with or without notice or cause.  This Policy does not create a contract implied or expressed, with any non-faculty employees, who are employees at will. The University reserves the right to deviate from this Policy or modify this Policy in whole or in part, at any time, at the discretion of the University. This Policy does not apply to probationary employees. Discipline for non-faculty employees will be commensurate with the offense and solely at the discretion of the University. Faculty will be subject to employment action for non-award of tenure as expressed in Section 16 of the Faculty Handbook.

Alleged violations of the University’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy or Sexual Harassment and Interpersonal Misconduct Policy will proceed through procedures specified in those respective policies.  

1.0 Offenses and Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action can take one of five forms:  (i) Verbal Counseling; (ii) Written Warning; (iii) Performance Improvement Plan; (iv) Suspension; or (v) Termination.  In general, the disciplinary process should proceed as follows for the offenses identified below.  

1.1 Offenses

Unacceptable conduct or performance may be divided into three groups of offenses according to their severity. The offenses listed in each of three groups are not all-inclusive and may not identify every offense, which may occur and result in disciplinary action. The disciplinary actions set forth in the group offenses are the minimum actions, which must be imposed. 

1.1.1 Employees who are in violation of a Group One or Group Two Offense that may result in an involuntary separation, may be offered the option to resign by management rather than be involuntarily separated by dismissal or termination.  The University cannot offer any employee that violates a Group Three Offense the option to resign. A resignation resulting from disciplinary actions shall not be deemed to be a resignation in good standing.

1.1.2 The accumulation of active written disciplinary notices, regardless of the nature of the first Group Offense, may result in suspension without pay and the second active written notice will normally result in termination. If the circumstances warrant, an appointing authority may impose a more serious disciplinary action. More severe penalties, including termination, may be imposed for Group One or Group Two Offenses, if the circumstances warrant.

1.2 Group One Offenses and Disciplinary Actions:

1.2.1 Options for Group One Disciplinary Actions include but are not limited to:

  1. First Offense – Coach and re-establish expectations with a Written Warning OR Verbal Warning with Email follow-up
  2. Second Offense – Written notice OR 1-3 Days Suspension without Pay
  3. Third Offense – Termination

1.2.2 Group One Offenses include but are not limited to:

  1. Non-adherence to Marymount University Standards of Conduct;
    1. Comply with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and conduct themselves in accordance with the University’s mission and values, policies and procedures, and Code of Ethics;
    2. Strive for quality, efficiency, and effectiveness in all endeavors aimed at achieving the University’s mission and goals;
    3. Act honestly and responsibly at all times, holding themselves accountable for their actions;
    4. Maintain and promote an atmosphere of mutual respect, cooperation, and civility;
    5. Commit to the just treatment of others, applying policies fairly and making resources and services equally available to all members of the campus community;
    6. Steward the university resources carefully, ensuring that facilities, equipment, budget dollars, and personal time are used appropriately in support of Marymount’s mission and goals;
    7. Refrain from making purchases, or otherwise committing university funds, in order to derive personal benefit;
    8. Respect the privacy of each individual and preserve the confidentiality of university records and other information entrusted to them;
    9. Avoid conflicts of interest, bribery, and coercion, and strive to avoid even the appearance of impropriety in connection with their roles and responsibilities at the University.
  2. Neglect or carelessness in observation of departmental safety rules or disregard of common safety practices (such as improper driving, etc.);
  3. Failure to report any work-related personal injury, auto, or equipment damage to one’s immediate manager as soon as possible;
  4. Failure to use or wear proper safety equipment as required;
  5. Sleeping during work hours;
  6. Consistent tardiness, failure to report for work, leaving work without permission;
  7. Engaging in outside employment without approval of the Division VP or Department Head;
  8. Insubordination – Failure to follow direction of manager;
  9. Excessive use of telephone or computer for personal reasons during business hours;
  10. Obtain or attempt to obtain unauthorized access or use of information to include paper records, automated, and/or electronic information systems;
  11. Abuse of any leave;
  12. Violation of any applicable federal, state, or departmental policy;
  13. Actions which disrupt the preservation of data and systems integrity and/or fail to protect the University’s investment in IT assets.

1.3 Group Two Offenses and Disciplinary Actions

1.3.1 Options for Group Two Disciplinary Actions include, but are not limited to:

  1. First Offense – Written Warning OR 3-5 days suspension without pay 
  2. Second Offense – Termination

1.3.2 Group Two Offenses include but are not limited to:

  1. Reckless driving of vehicles and/or reckless operation of equipment while on the University business;
  2. Continued inefficient or careless performance of assigned duties;
  3. Lying about a work related matter or in the course of a work-related investigation;
  4. Any act of negligence which reflects disregard for the safety of person or property;
  5. Refusal to respond to questions during any university work-related investigation;
  6. Unauthorized use of the University’s property for private work or performing private work on the University’s time;
  7. Management abusing authority, such as gross favoritism or mistreatment of employees;
  8. Discrimination, harassment, or retaliation that affects the terms and conditions of another university employee’s employment or an applicant for employment on the basis of race, gender, color, religion, national origin, age, or disability; and
  9. Overt acts that allow or gain access to protected information not authorized in the performance of an employee’s job

1.4 Group Three Offense and Disciplinary Actions

1.4.1 Option for Group Three Disciplinary Actions include but are not limited to:

  1. First Offense – Termination

1.4.2 Group Three Offenses include but are not limited to:

  1. Falsifying university records or data to include but not limited to, accident reports, workman’s compensation benefits, performance appraisals, time submissions, travel and/or expense vouchers, employment applications, alcohol, and/or controlled substance test results to include attempting to falsify or assisting others in attempting to falsify test results, etc.;
  2. Malicious damage, theft, or deliberate destruction in any manner of the University’s property, equipment or the property of others, or unauthorized removal of funds or records;
  3. Possession or use (unless prescribed by a physician) as well as the manufacture, distribution, dispensation of marijuana, cocaine, (including crack), phencyclidine, valium, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, barbiturates, methadone, methaqualone, opiates (including heroin) and propoxyphene, or any other drug listed in the Drug Control Act of 1970 (53.1-3400) or the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. Section 8.12) while on the job.
  4. Unless authorized, employees shall not use, possess, or carry, either concealed or displayed, firearms, explosives, or any lethal weapon on MU owned or leased property or the worksite at any time. This shall include university vehicles at all times and personal vehicles while on university property.
  5. Failure of any employee to notify the appointing authority within five (5) calendar days of any criminal conviction for conduct occurring within the workplace;
  6. Unreported absences or failure to report to work without notice after three (3) business days.
  7. Failure of any employee to immediately notify the immediate manager or appointing authority if diagnosed with a contagious/life threatening illness which poses a threat to others or may incur additional risk to themselves due to their work environment; 
  8. Unauthorized release or deliberate destruction of MU confidential records or information; to include, but not limited to, paper records, automated and/or electronic information systems, alcohol and/or controlled substance test results or specimens;
  9. Conviction of a felony as it relates to job performance and/or assigned duties and responsibilities; 
  10. A Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holder receives a test result of 0.02 or greater for alcohol and/or a positive result for controlled substances; refusal to submit to testing or provide required consent certifications; or provisions of the Drug and Alcohol Usage and Testing Policy;  
  11. Intentional subversion of security procedures and restrictions to include violations of law using MU IT resources; 
  12. Deliberate abusive behavior, either direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical, or psychological, that impacts another person or person’s ability to do their job. This means behavior that is rude or unprofessional, insubordinate, threatening, intimidating, and/or disrespectful to a manager, coworker, customer, student, visitor, or vendor;
  13. Threatening to do or rendering bodily harm to other persons in the workplace;

2.0 Resolution

2.1  Implementation of Discipline 

2.1.1 When an employee’s conduct and/or job performance is not consistent with the University’s missions, policies, or procedures, the manager initiates a plan of action, which may include advice, counsel, and/or discipline to restore the employee to an acceptable standard of conduct and/or job performance.

2.1.2 Consultation with Human Resources is required prior to any disciplinary action to verify that it is consistent with the University’s policies and procedures.  Human Resources must be consulted when disciplinary action involves a written warning, Performance Improvement Plan, suspension, or termination.  

2.1.2 Human Resources and managers must investigate any act or incident in violation of the University’s mission, policies, or procedures. After the investigation, or full assessment of the situation, is completed, appropriate disciplinary action will be applied in a timely manner, if necessary.

2.2 Verbal Counseling 

The manager has a conversation with an employee for a minor infraction of the rules or failure to meet minimum performance expectations. It is not a formal disciplinary action. Care shall be taken to ensure that the employee understands the reason(s) for the counseling and the ways in which he/she can improve.  When a manager deems that a verbal counseling statement is warranted, he/she will:

  1. Advise the employee, in private, of the specific conduct or action and the date it occurred;
  2. Allow the employee an opportunity to explain and weigh the explanation; and
  3. Maintain an informal record of the discussion with the employee’s knowledge of such a record

2.3 Written Warning

This is a formal warning for repetition of actions that received verbal counseling or for a

serious infraction of the University’s Standards of Conduct or the University’s policies. Where applicable, this notice shall make reference to any prior verbal counseling. The written warning shall be specific as to the employee’s deficiencies and actions, i.e. quality and quantity of work, accuracy, etc. It shall also state the action to be taken if there is no improvement, i.e. suspension or termination. The written warning is a permanent record in the employee’s personnel file and remains in the employees file throughout the course of employment. 

2.3.1 The warning letter will contain: 

  1. A statement written in sufficient detail to enable the employee to understand fully the violation, infraction, conduct, or offense for which employee is being disciplined;
  2. Statement that it is an official letter of warning and will be placed in the employee’s official personnel folder;
  3. Previous offenses in those cases where the letter is considered a continuation of progressive discipline; and 
  4. Statement that similar occurrences could result in more severe disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

2.4 Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

A Performance Improvement Plan allows the employee a specified time to conform to applicable University policy or improve performance, but stresses the probability of further disciplinary action if the causal behavior is not corrected. In consultation with Human Resources, the manager may place an employee on a PIP at any point during the disciplinary process. 

2.4.1  The manager will meet with the employee and discuss the written PIP: 

  1. To discuss the problems as outlined in the position description or performance appraisal. 
  2. The manager sets a review date to reevaluate the employee’s performance. The review period shall be set generally at one (1) to three (3) months.
  3. The manager meets with the employee throughout the PIP period and at the end of the review period to compare the work performance during the review period. 
  4. If performance is satisfactory, the employee is informed that they are no longer on review. 
  5. If performance is not satisfactory, the manager works with Human Resources on the notification to the employee that their employment will be terminated.

2.5 Suspension

2.5.1  Administrative Leave or disciplinary time off, with or without pay given for failure to improve after prior written warning, for reported actions noted in verbal and written disciplinary action or a serious violation of University policies. The employee shall receive an advance written notice of the suspension. The notice shall be specific as to the dates of the suspension and shall specify the action to be taken if improvement does not occur, i.e. termination.

2.5.2  When a manager determines that an offense requires a more severe disciplinary action than a written reprimand, the manager will:

  1. Investigate alleged employee offenses promptly; obtain all pertinent facts in the case (time, place, events, and circumstances) including, but not limited to, making contact with persons involved or having knowledge of the incident;
  2. Discuss the case including the length of suspension with higher levels of management and Human Resources;
  3. Prepare and submit a suspension letter to appropriate levels for review and approval; and 
  4. Consider the employee’s reply to the suspension letter and make a final recommendation to the Associate Vice President Human Resources and the Division Vice President who will collaborate in making the final decision.

2.5.3  The suspension letter must include:

  1. Statement of violations in sufficient detail to enable the employee to understand fully the violation, infraction, conduct, or offense for which employee is being disciplined; 
  2. Type of disciplinary action (suspension or dismissal);
  3. A list of previous offenses, if any, which have been considered in arriving at the current disciplinary action;
  4. Effective date of disciplinary action (no sooner than (1) business day from the date of advance notice letter) and employee’s right to reply (five (5)) business days from receipt of the letter);
  5. Employee’s right to grieve should the final decision result in a suspension or dismissal; and 
  6. Statement that the action proposed, if implemented, will become a permanent part of the employee’s personnel file. 

2.5.4  Circumstances when Administrative Leave is appropriate prior to a suspension letter.  When there is reasonable cause to believe an employee is guilty of a crime or when circumstances are such that the retention of the employee in an active employment may result in damage to the University’s property or may be detrimental to the interests of the University or injurious to the employee, their fellow workers, or the general public, the department head or designee may temporarily place the employee on administrative leave until appropriate disciplinary action, if any, is determined.

2.6 Termination

This is an involuntary separation from employment with the University. This action shall usually be taken as the final step in the disciplinary process. However, specific circumstances may dictate termination as the only step. Human Resources must be consulted before any termination decision is made.  Termination shall be communicated in writing outlining the actions being taken and citing previous disciplinary steps. The termination of an employee shall constitute the most severe type of disciplinary action authorized under this policy. This action should only be taken when a manager has determined that an employee is unsuited for employment at the University. When this determination has been made, the procedures outlined in the above paragraphs under Suspensions will be followed to provide a letter of termination.