Progressive Discipline


Administration & Finance


Human Resources

Contact Information: 

Labor Relations / (415) 405-3712

Effective Date: 

Monday, July 1, 1985

Revised Date: 

Monday, March 1, 2004


California Education Code, Title 5

Collective Bargaining Agreement 


The progressive discipline policy is used to modify specific behavior or to improve performance. The goal is not to punish the employee, but to alert the employee to the need to correct specific behavior.



It is the philosophy of San Francisco State University and the California State University system, in conformance with the California Education Code, Title 5, and Collective Bargaining Agreements, to follow a program of progressive discipline when an employee fails to meet the required standards of performance. Progressive discipline establishes a process of clear, timely, consistent, and documented communications with an employee designed to ensure an understanding of job expectations, provide an opportunity to correct behavior, improve performance, and assure "due process". The process begins with a job description, appropriate training, communication of work rules, and regular performance evaluations.

The goal of progressive discipline is to modify specific behavior or to improve performance. The goal is not to punish the employee, but to alert the employee to the need to correct specific behavior.

Progressive discipline actions taken by SFSU administrators, deans, or unit heads shall remain confidential.

Effective performance is acknowledged through verbal reinforcement, written performance evaluations outlining specific examples of accomplishments and contributions, and recommendations for salary increases.

Poor performance should be addressed through a progressive pattern of pre-discipline and formal discipline. Pre-discipline includes special performance evaluations, counseling, verbal and written warnings, and letters of reprimand. Formal discipline includes suspensions without pay or demotion, and finally dismissal. This progressive pattern of discipline is designed to ensure proper communication between supervisor/administrator and employee, to provide an opportunity to reinforce appropriate behavior, and to correct unsatisfactory employee performance.


These guidelines apply to all staff employees covered by collective bargaining agreements and to employees in designated confidential positions. These guidelines do not apply to individuals hired as faculty, employees hired as administrators in the Management Personnel Plan (MPP) or those in excluded classifications, e.g., student assistants, work-study, special consultants, etc. '

Where the provisions of this policy and procedure are in conflict with the collective bargaining agreements reached, the collective bargaining agreements shall take precedence. Additionally, the Public Safety Officers’ Procedural Bill of Rights shall pertain in cases where applicable.


At SFSU, the president has delegated authority to impose formal disciplinary action in the form of suspensions, demotions and dismissal to the cabinet level officers (appropriate vice president). Recommendations for such disciplinary actions are submitted by the dean to a Human Resources or Employee Relations officer.

The appropriate administrator (designated within the Management Personnel Plan) is responsible for initiating disciplinary action(s).  Pre-disciplinary action, which includes counseling, oral and written warning(s), and letter(s) of reprimand, may be taken with or without consulting a Human Resources or Employee Relations officer. Formal disciplinary action, which includes suspension or demotion and dismissal, requires consultation with a Human Resources or Employee Relations officer and the concurrence of the cabinet level officer.

Immediate formal disciplinary action may be implemented in instances of serious misconduct where there is a clear and present danger to the university or its members. Such misconduct may include, but not be limited to, dishonesty, including fraud in securing employment, theft, misappropriation of University property or funds, acts endangering the health and safety of others, immoral conduct, and conviction of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. In such instances, an employee may be temporarily suspended with pay for reasons related to a) the safety of persons or property; or b) the prevention of the disruption of programs and/or operations, or c) investigation for formal disciplinary action.

Typically, progressive discipline is implemented for ongoing failure or refusal to perform the normal and reasonable duties of the position, which includes, but is not limited to unsatisfactory performance, excessive absenteeism, tardiness, work rule violations, insubordination, or unprofessional conduct that may include verbal abuse toward another employee.

Employees should be advised of their right to consult with a union or personal representative prior to any discussion that could adversely affect working conditions or employment status.

Employees have the (1) right to union or personal representation; (2) right to be given the facts; i.e., to know the facts giving rise to the disciplinary action; (3) right to a hearing on the matter; (4) right to receive copies of all materials upon which the action is based; (5) right to appeal to a reviewing officer; and (6) right to file an appeal with the State Personnel Board.

Consultation with a Human Resources or Employee Relations officer is required prior to the submission of recommendations for formal disciplinary action (demotion, suspension and dismissal). The recommendation shall document prior counseling, warnings, written reprimands and prior discipline, and shall include all supporting documentation, e.g., attendance records, copies of written reprimands. The documentation must describe the deficient behavior, identify the impact to the department, outline what actions have been taken prior to the recommendation to communicate with the employee about the deficient behavior and efforts made concerning the correction of behavior and include the names of witnesses if appropriate to the deficient behavior.

Where the deficient behavior is believed to be illegal or serious misconduct as outlined, the appropriate administrator shall immediately notify the Chief of University Police, a Human Resources or Employee Relations officer, the University counsel and auditor, if appropriate.

A Human Relations or Employee Relations officer shall review the request for the formal disciplinary action, and shall forward a recommendation with all supporting documentation and employee notification to the appropriate Cabinet Level Officer for signature.

Upon signature, the Human Resources or Employee Relations officer shall either forward the notice to the appropriate administrator to be served on the employee in person, arrange for personal service, or send the notice of formal disciplinary action to the employee by certified mail at the employee’s last known address. The notice shall contain information regarding employee rights, including the right to consult their union or personal representative.

Within five (5) days of receiving the notice of formal disciplinary action, the employee may provide a written statement and/or, by appointment, an oral statement, requesting a review by a Reviewing Officer appointed by the President or designee. The Reviewing Officer shall review all pertinent documentation and is empowered to affirm, modify or withdraw the notice.

Within thirty (30) days of receiving the notice of formal disciplinary action, the employee may appeal to the State Personnel Board.

If an employee requests a State Personnel Board Hearing, the Human Resources or Employee Relations officer shall notify the appropriate administrator and the appropriate union regarding the hearing, and shall assist the University counsel with necessary case preparation and presentation.

When not provided specifically by collective bargaining provisions, letters of reprimand may be removed from the official personnel file upon the employee’s request after three (3) years from its effective date. If formal disciplinary action has been initiated and the reprimand is related to the action, the letter will not be removed. Nothing in this provision shall prohibit earlier removal of the reprimand upon mutual agreement by the administrator and employee.


Progressive Discipline