TERMINATION AND GRIEVANCES
An employee wishing to resign from employment at Amarillo College should discuss the matter with the immediate supervisor before formal action is taken. A minimum of two weeks notice is requested prior to the effective date of termination. A written resignation should be initiated by the employee, and a Personnel Form 310 should be forwarded by the supervisor to the Human Resources Office. A resigning employee will complete the Exiting Packet before officially leaving the College. An employee’s final paycheck will not be released until the employee has paid all debts to Amarillo College.
Application for retirement payments from the Amarillo College Benefits Plan should be made in the Human Resources Office by the employee thirty days before planned retirement. In order to apply for annuity payments under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, employees should visit the Amarillo College Human Resources Office no later than four months before planned retirement date. Administrative employees who participate in Optional Retirement should contact their carrier representative to initiate the retirement annuity. If the retiring employee is also vested in Social Security, he/she should contact the Social Security Office at least thirty days before retirement.
7.3 FORCED REDUCTION LAYOFF
Employees may be laid off without prejudice by reason of lack of work or funds or the abolishment of position. Insofar as practicable, employees will be given at least two weeks advance notice of such layoff.
7.4 EMPLOYEE STANDARDS OF CONDUCT
The following standards of conduct shall apply to all employees of the College:
1. No employee shall accept or solicit any gift, favor, or service that might reasonably tend to influence the employee in the discharge of official duties or that the employee knows or should know is being offered with intent to influence official conduct.
2. No employee shall accept employment or engage in any business or professional activity that the employee might reasonably expect would require or induce the disclosure of confidential information acquired by reason of the official duties.
3. No employee shall accept other employment or compensation that could reasonably be expected to impair the employee's independence of judgment in performance of official duties.
4. No employee shall make personal investments that could reasonably be expected to create a substantial conflict between the employee's private interest and the public interest.
5. No employee shall intentionally or knowingly solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit for having exercised the employee's official powers or performed official duties in favor of another.
6. No full-time employee shall engage in any other business, profession, or work outside the College to the detriment of College responsibilities. A full-time employee must have prior written approval from his/her immediate supervisor to engage in work outside of
his/her College responsibilities. (The Amarillo Junior College District Board of Regents Policy Manual)
7. No employee shall issue public statements regarding the College operation without verifying and checking the validity of the statistics or any information used in the public statement. (The Amarillo Junior College District Board of Regents Policy Manual.)
8. Any employee is free to participate in political activities and to express an opinion on controversial issues provided the employee does not create the impression that he/she is acting or speaking as a representative of the College.
7.5 GROUNDS FOR TERMINATION
Any of the following acts of conduct on the part of an employee will constitute special grounds for termination.
1. Inability to perform duties of the job.
2. Falsification of the application for employment.
3. Use of intoxicants or drugs while on duty, or under the influence of intoxicants or drugs while on duty.
4. Conviction under a felony charge.
6. Inciting or engaging in riots.
7. Misappropriation, theft, or unauthorized use of College equipment, tools, machines, funds, etc.
8. Incompetence or repeated neglect of duty.
9. Unauthorized absence from duty without satisfactory explanation and prior approval of supervisor.
10. Any act which constitutes a conflict of interest on the part of the employee.
In all cases involving grounds for termination the immediate supervisor is responsible for furnishing complete documentation of the grounds for termination. This documentation should include memorandum for records, official documents received from the police, and statements concerning the incident or series of incidents used as a basis for recommended termination.
7.6 DUE PROCESS PROCEDURE FOR CLASSIFIED EMPLOYEES
Disciplinary action will be taken against an employee as a preventive measure against termination. Termination will be resorted to only when all other reasonable corrective methods have failed, unless the seriousness of the offense warrants immediate termination. Examples of causes for disciplinary action or discharge against a classified employee are listed in Section 7.5 of this Handbook.
To ensure that the employee has been informed of any shortcomings and suggestions made for improvement, the following steps of progressive discipline should be initiated.
Step 1: The immediate supervisor will have a personal interview with the employee to call to the employee’s attention specific problems of unsatisfactory conduct or performance of duties. Interviews should be documented by the supervisor.
Step 2: In the event the employee fails to improve as a result of action outlined above, a reprimand will be prepared in writing by the immediate supervisor, outlining in detail the unsatisfactory conduct or performance of duties. The original copy of the reprimand will be furnished to the employee who will sign a copy for the file, acknowledging receipt of the reprimand. This signed copy will be sent through administrative channels to the Director of Human Resources for inclusion in the employee’s personnel file.
If the employee believes that the written reprimand does not clearly explain the situation surrounding the disciplinary action, the employee may make a written statement of clarification of his/her position. This written statement will be forwarded directly to the Director of Human Resources and will also be included in the individual’s personnel file. A copy of the statement will be forwarded to the immediate supervisor by the Human Resources Office.
Step 3: In the event the employee fails to improve after taking the action outlined in the prior paragraphs, the immediate supervisor will bring the details to the attention of the Director of Human Resources.
If it appears that suspension is necessary, the immediate supervisor will issue a suspension letter to the employee. This letter will contain reasons for suspension and length of time the employee will be suspended. The employee may be suspended up to 30 days without pay. In the best interest of the College, suspension may be bypassed and the employee directly terminated as the case may warrant.
Step 4: In the event that a review of the personnel file and a discussion with the employee warrants termination for unsatisfactory conduct or performance of duties, the immediate supervisor will draft a letter of termination for review by the Director of Human Resources. This letter will contain the specific reasons for termination. The immediate supervisor and the Director of Human Resources will then decide whether to cease employment immediately without severance pay, cease employment with two weeks notice, or cease employment immediately with two weeks’ severance pay. A letter of termination will then be issued to the employee by the immediate supervisor detailing the reasons for termination and for the decision concerning severance pay. Based on the severity of the problem, normal discipline such as reprimand, etc. may be bypassed, and the employee may be dismissed immediately. Immediate termination will not be taken without consultation between the immediate supervisor and the Director of Human Resources to ensure compliance with personnel policy.
7.7 DUE PROCESS PROCEDURE FOR ADMINISTRATORS
Proper procedure for suspension or termination of an administrative employee at Amarillo College being essential to positive morale, the following steps of college due process will be followed:
Step 1: Through preliminary inquiry, discussion or confidential mediation, the administrator (hereafter called the “supervisor”) responsible for initiating suspension or termination proceedings will first make a good-faith effort to resolve the difficulties.
Step 2: Should the initial efforts of the supervisor fail to resolve the difficulties the supervisor with the consent of the President, will present written charges to the administrative employee (hereafter called the “employee”). Such written charges shall include a list of the names of witnesses against the employee, the nature of testimony and a general description of any documentary evidence which will be used against him/her. The employee may provide a written
response to the formal charges to the supervisor within six regularly scheduled College working days (hereafter called “working days”) from the date the employee receives such written charges. Should the employee wish a hearing before a committee of his/her administrative peers (hereafter called the “administrative committee”), such request shall be included in the written response of the employee.
Step 3: Within three working days after the receipt of the written response, if any, wherein a hearing before the administrative committee is requested, the supervisor shall deliver to the President a copy of the formal written charges and the written response of the employee for the administrative committee’s consideration. The supervisor and employee shall each nominate three administrative employees to serve on the administrative committee. Administrative personnel who report to the same President’s Cabinet member as the employee being charged cannot serve on the administrative committee. The President shall select three administrative employees to serve on the committee using at least one person from each submitted list.
Step 4: Within twenty working days after receipt of the written charges and written response, the administrative committee shall conduct the requested hearing to investigate the charges. The employee shall be advised in writing of the time and place for such hearing at least ten working days prior to such hearing. At such hearing, the administrative committee may call before it any involved individual in order to obtain additional information. All interested parties will be entitled to present relevant evidence and reasonable argument.
Step 5: Within ten working days of the administrative committee hearing, the administrative committee’s written findings and recommendations will be presented in person by the chairman of the administrative committee or its respective designee to the employee, the supervisor, and the President. Within ten working days of the receipt of such written findings and recommendations the President will notify the employee, supervisor, and committee in writing of his/her decision regarding the charges. If the decision is adverse to the employee, the President will include the reason for the decision.
Step 6: If the issue has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the employee, he/she shall advise the President in writing within six working days of the receipt of the President’s decision that he/she wishes a hearing before the Board of Regents.
After the President receives such written notification from the employee the President will present the administrative committee’s report, with all related documents and the President’s decision, to the Board of Regents at its next regularly scheduled meeting. The Board of Regents will then set a date and place for a full hearing of the matter. The employee shall be advised in writing of the time and place for such hearing at least ten working days prior to such hearing. At such hearing, the Board of Regents may call before it any involved individual in order to obtain additional information. All interested parties will be entitled to present relevant witnesses, relevant evidence and reasonable argument. If the employee is to be confronted with other witnesses or evidence than disclosed either prior to or during the administrative committee hearing, notice of such new evidence will be given in writing to such employee at least six working days before the Board hearing. The Board of Regents will then review the case in full and return its decision regarding the charges. The final decision of the Board will be provided in writing to the employee involved, the President, the administrative committee and the supervisor.
Step 7: Each party involved in the due process proceedings may be represented by counsel of his/her own choosing at his/her own expense. Consistent with the time limitations stated herein, the proceedings will be conducted with all deliberate speed.
Step 8: The salary of the employee will not be affected during the due process proceedings. If the employee presents threat of harm to himself/herself or others, the employee may be suspended with pay by the President. While under most circumstances consultation with the administrative committee and their concurrence should precede the decision to suspend an employee, the President may when deemed necessary, suspend an employee without such consultation.
Step 9: To the extent possible under rule of law, all proceedings in connection with suspension or termination shall be kept strictly confidential unless such confidentiality is waived by the employee. The employee has the right to public hearings before the administrative committee and the Board of Regents and the right to a recording of those hearings at his/her expense. Such request by the employee for a public hearing and/or recording of such hearing shall be made at least three working days prior to such hearings.
Upon disposition, all correspondence, documents, recommendations and dispositions shall be sent to the Human Resources Office for inclusion in the employee’s file.
7.8 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
Classified and Administrative Grievance Procedure
Grievance procedures for full-time classified personnel and appointed administrators are as follows:
1. Should a complaint not be resolved and the employee wishes to file a formal grievance, a written grievance must be submitted to the immediate supervisor. The grievance must specify the alleged harm and include a recommended remedy. Both parties will try to resolve the difference at this level. Within five working days of the receipt of the written grievance, the immediate supervisor is required to present the resolution in writing to the employee.
2. If a resolution is not achieved, the employee may submit a grievance, in writing, to the next higher level of supervision. The written grievance must be submitted by the employee within two working days from the date of receipt of the supervisor’s written resolution. Within two working days after receiving the written grievance, the second-level supervisor will prepare a written resolution of the grievance and submit the resolution to the immediate supervisor and employee.
3. If the second level supervisor’s resolution is not acceptable, the employee may continue the grievance by appealing to the President’s Cabinet member representing the employee’s division within two working days of receiving the proposed resolution.
4. When the grievance is appealed to the President’s Cabinet member, the President’s Cabinet member will give the employee an opportunity to be heard within five working days of the receipt of the grievance. Recommended disposition of the grievance shall be submitted to the employee and all involved supervisory personnel not more than ten working days from receipt of the grievance.
5. If the disposition of the grievance by the President’s Cabinet member is not acceptable to the employee, a written appeal must be submitted to the Director of Human Resources within ten working days of receipt of the President’s Cabinet member’s proposed solution. The Director of Human Resources will notify the President, who will appoint a grievance board. The grievance board, composed of three members, shall be appointed and convened as promptly as possible.
The President may consult with the Classified Employee Council and/or the President’s Cabinet in order to take recommendations for grievance board members. The grievance board shall conduct a hearing within ten working days after receipt of the written grievance.
Within five working days after the conclusion of the hearing, the grievance board will submit a report of its findings and recommendations to the President.
Within ten working days after receiving the report from the grievance board, the President will give a decision to the employee, the appropriate supervisory personnel, the grievance board, and the Director of Human Resources.
The decision of the President is final except in grievances involving appointed administrative personnel.
6. Benefits-eligible administrators may bring the matter to the Board of Regents within five working days of the receipt of the President’s decision if the situation has still not been resolved.
Appeals to Board of Regents
Upon the completion of all grievance procedures a benefits-eligible administrative employee may appeal to the Board of Regents by filing written notice to do so with the President within five working days after receipt of the decision by the grievance board. The President shall notify the Board of Regents Chair who may set reasonable time limits on grievance presentations. The Board of Regents shall listen to the grievance, but is not required to respond or take any action on the matter, unless in its sole discretion it determines some response is warranted. By taking no action, the Board of Regents upholds the decision presented.
If a hearing is granted, that hearing will be either with the Board of Regents in a meeting that includes the hearing as an item in the posted agenda or with the Board’s designee. If the Board of Regents conducts the hearing, it shall make and communicate its decision at any time up to and including the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. If the Board’s designee conducts the hearing, he/she shall make a recommendation to the Board of Regents at the first regular meeting following the hearing that affords adequate time to prepare a written recommendation.
The employee shall be provided a copy of the recommendation five working days before the meeting and shall be given an opportunity at the meeting to respond to the recommendation either orally or in writing. The Board of Regents shall then make and communicate its decision at any time up to and including the next regularly scheduled Board Meeting.
Disposition of Grievance Records
Upon completion of any grievance the immediate supervisor will ensure that a complete copy of all correspondence, documents, recommendations, dispositions, Board of Regents actions, and the like pertaining to the grievance will be forwarded to the Director of Human Resources to be maintained in a separate file. Grievances shall not be documented in an employee’s personnel file unless so requested by the employee.
7.9 COMPLAINTS ALLEGING DISCRIMINATION
Discrimination in employment and the education process on the basis of race, color, religion, age, gender, national origin, or disability, or on the basis of the individual's exercise of constitutional rights is forbidden by state and federal statutes and a violation of Amarillo College policy. If an employee or applicant for employment believes they have been subjected to discrimination they shall file a complaint with the Director of Human Resources establishing the harm suffered.
Sexual Harassment Definition
Sexual harassment, though a form of discrimination, is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an employee, student, or group of employees or students because of gender and that:
1. Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or academic environment; or
2. Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance of duties or studies; or
3. Otherwise adversely affects an individual's employment or academic opportunities.
Harassing conduct includes (1) epithets, slurs, negative stereotyping, or threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts that relate to gender and (2) written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group because of gender and that is placed on walls, bulletin boards, or elsewhere on College premises, or is circulated in the workplace.
7.10 DISCRIMINATION/SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
An individual who believes he/she has been or is being subjected to any form of discrimination including sexual harassment shall bring the matter to the attention of the Director of Human Resources. The complaint may be made in person or in writing.
The Director of Human Resources will conduct an investigation and recommend appropriate action to address substantiated allegations. During the investigation process every effort will be made to protect the confidentiality of the complainant and the subject of the complaint, but anonymity cannot be guaranteed. No procedure or step in the process will require the employee alleging discrimination/harassment to present the matter to a person who is the subject of the complaint. If the complaint is against the Director of Human Resources it should be addressed to the Dean of Finance and Administrative Services.
7.11 RETALIATION FORBIDDEN
Retaliation against an individual who complains of discrimination/sexual harassment is a violation of College policy and will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Any complainant who feels that he/she is being retaliated against, either during or after an investigation, shall report the incidents of retaliation to the investigator.
7.12 FALSE CLAIMS
Because of the serious nature of a discrimination/sexual harassment claim, employees or students who knowingly allege a false claim may be subject to discipline up to and including suspension and/or termination of employment.