Loyola University Chicago

Human Resources

Progressive Discipline

Employee misconduct is ordinarily addressed through progressive discipline consisting of four steps: oral warning, written warning, suspension and termination. Serious offenses may result in immediate suspension or termination.

The intent of progressive discipline is to notify an employee that misconduct must be corrected and that continued misconduct may lead to termination. This process gives an employee the opportunity to correct his or her behavior before termination is necessary.

Progressive discipline applies to all staff employees who have completed their review period with two exceptions:

  • Employees at the administrative department head level and above have special responsibilities and are not subjected to progressive discipline; and
  • Exempt employees may be suspended without pay but only for an entire calendar week.

Progressive discipline usually consists of oral warning, written warning, suspension and termination. For serious infractions of standards of conduct or departmental policies, immediate suspension or termination may be warranted.

  • Supervisors should consult with the Campus Human Resources office, whenever feasible, before taking disciplinary action at the written warning level or above. Because it is important to take immediate action in the case of a serious misconduct, departments may remove an offending employee from the workplace pending investigation of the incident in question.
  • Document the incident of misconduct and the reasons why the department considers the infraction serious;
  • State what the employee must do to avoid similar misconduct; and
  • Indicate that future misconduct of any sort may result in suspension or termination

Step 1: Oral Warning
In cases of misconduct which may not be serious as a single incident but could become serious if a pattern develops, the supervisor should discuss the issue with the employee, tell the employee that the discussion is an oral warning and document the discussion in a departmental file.

Step 2: Written Warning

If a pattern of misconduct develops or a serious incident occurs requiring more than an oral warning, the supervisor should consult with the Campus Human Resources Office about the appropriateness of a written warning. If a Written Warning is appropriate, the action should include: 

  • Documenting the incident of misconduct by completing a Disciplinary Report of Conference Form that includes the reasons why the department considers the infraction serious along with listing the level of discipline;
  • Stating what the employee must do to avoid similar misconduct;
  • Indicating that future misconduct of any sort may result in suspension or termination; and
  • Including the Supervisor and Employee signatures.

Step 3: Suspension Without Pay
In some cases, a supervisor may determine that while immediate discharge for repeated offenses or a single serious offence would be too severe, suspension without pay is appropriate. The facts of the case and the possible suspension (one to five days not to exceed 40 hours) should be discussed with and approved by the Campus Human Resources office prior to discussion with the employee. 

Once the appropriate suspension document is prepared and signed, the supervisor should meet with the employee to attempt to:

  • Explain why the incident requires discipline, especially how the conduct is not in accordance with acceptable standards;
  • Review prior disciplinary actions relating to this new discipline;
  • Indicate the length of the suspension without pay; and
  • Document that termination for any additional misconduct is the next step in progressive discipline.
  • Copies of the suspension document should be appropriately distributed.

Step 4: Termination
If progressive discipline fails to improve an employee's conduct or another type of misconduct occurs, termination may result. In terminating an employee, the following procedures should be followed:

  • In the case of a serious incident, the employee should be removed from the work place pending an investigation to determine whether discharge is warranted. The supervisor and the Campus Human Resource Office will agree on the course of the investigation.
  • If the decision is to terminate, and circumstances warrant it, a Human Resources and Security representative may be included in the termination meeting with the employee. At this meeting, a termination document, with explanation, should be presented to the employee.
  • The terminated employee should go through the check-out procedure at the Campus Human Resources office.

It is the department's decision, with the approval of Campus Human Resources, whether to terminate.

A written record of disciplinary action is included in the employee's Human Resources file. Disciplinary documents will be removed from the file in 12 months if no further disciplinary actions occur during that time. Once a file is cleared of disciplinary actions, the progressive discipline process begins anew for any future incident.

Promotion and Transfer
Employees who are considered for promotion/transfer must be in good standing.  Any staff member with an active written warning on file should not be considered for promotion/transfer for six months from the date of discipline; those with a suspension on file should not be considered for one year.  Any exceptions will need to be reviewed and approved by Human Resources and the employee’s department head.