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Disciplinary Action

A Guide to the Disciplinary Action Process

All employees are expected to meet performance standards and behave appropriately in the workplace. Disciplinary action is a process of communicating with the employee to improve unacceptable behavior or performance. You may take disciplinary action when an employee fails to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of their position and previous performance improvement plans or coaching attempts have not been successful.

In most cases, Indiana State University uses the following progressive steps of discipline:

  1. Verbal Warning
  2. Written Warning
  3. Final Written Warning
  4. Suspension and/or Termination.

The formal disciplinary action form should be used when taking one of the above steps of discipline. You can request a copy of this form from a member of the Employee Relations staff.

In cases of serious misconduct, you may choose to proceed straight to a written warning up to and including termination. Per University policy, no suspension or termination may be imposed prior to consulting with the Associate Vice President for Human Resources and the appropriate vice president.

Contact a member of the Employee Relations staff before taking disciplinary action to help you determine whether discipline is the best approach to problem-solving in a particular situation.

Guiding Principles

In carrying out disciplinary action be sure to:

  • Build trust and maintain a professional manner by keeping the disciplinary process confidential between you and the employee
  • Make a careful diagnosis of the problem to determine whether disciplinary action is appropriate
  • Provide specific examples of performance discrepancies or work rule violations so the employee fully understands what needs correction
  • Allow the employee ample opportunity to explain so that you have all the facts
  • Make sure discipline is the appropriate tool. Would coaching or a performance improvement plan be sufficient to get the employee's attention?
  • When you take disciplinary action, make sure the punishment fits the crime
  • Help the employee improve performance by providing specific recommendations and requirements
  • Communicate clearly so the employee understands the consequences if performance or conduct does not improve

If the employee believes the disciplinary action taken against them is unfair or inappropriate, a grievance may be filed through the Staff Council grievance procedure. Please visit the Staff Council web page for more information regarding the grievance procedure.

Please contact the Employee Relations staff if you need assistance with resolving a conflict in your area or department.


Rankin Hall Room, 300
Terre Haute, IN 47809

Phone: (812) 237-4114

Office Hours:
Monday-Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.