Article J - Types of Disciplinary Actions
Violation of work rules results in progressive disciplinary action. Discipline ranges from oral reprimand to immediate discharge, depending on the magnitude or severity of the violation, employee status, and whether it is a first violation or a recurrence. A combination of work rule violations is dealt with according to the circumstances of each case.
If circumstances arise which are not specifically covered by these rules, the director may take appropriate action; such action may set precedent for dealing with future infractions similar in nature.
All disciplinary actions, formal and informal, are conducted in private, but may be conducted with a witness. The supervisor and representative of the Administrative staff must be present for all action other than the verbal reprimand.
The minimum disciplinary action is the verbal reprimand which is an articulation of the problem by the supervisor to the employee. This serves as a warning and may be repeated for minor infractions before a supervisor applies stronger action. A note of the date and nature of the verbal reprimand should be maintained by the supervisor for one year from the time of the last incident. At the same time it should be stated specifically that the employee is receiving a formal warning.
The director or supervisor may administer a verbal reprimand to correct a problem area. A written record of the reprimands will be made and such will be made a part of the employee’s personnel files. Such records should include time, date, a brief description of the problem and direction given to the employee.
The written warning is a formal account of an infraction and a counseling statement must be filed in the employee’s permanent personnel record. This documentation must be reinforced by a discussion of the problem with the employee and must be acknowledged by the signature of the employee. The signature does not imply agreement. A repeat offense results in a interview and second written warning being placed in the employee’s files; a third infraction is grounds for dismissal.
The director or supervisor may submit a written reprimand to the employee when an oral warning has not resulted in the expected improvement, or when more severe initial action is warranted. The director shall file a copy of the reprimand in the employee’s personnel file, from which it may be removed after one (1) year, provided no additional reprimands are received by the employee. Such removal shall be at the discretion of the director. Written reprimands should contain the specific time, date, place of offense and a statement of corrective action to be taken by the employee. Copies shall be placed in the employee’s personnel file
The director may, for cause, suspend, with or without pay, an employee of the Athens Regional Library System for a set period of time. A written statement specifically setting forth reasons for the suspension and duration of the suspension shall be furnished to the employee. Copies shall be placed in the employee’s personnel file.
Discharge is the act of removing an individual from employment from the library for just cause, due to employee created problems, and carries with it the permanent loss of staff privileges. An employee may be discharged at any time, without regard to the preceding steps, if he or she commits an offense for which immediate discharge is specified as a penalty or if, in the supervisor’s judgment, the employee’s continued presence would be contrary to the well-being of the library or any of its employees.
The director may dismiss an employee. The employee shall be furnished notice of dismissal in writing, stating the reason for dismissal. Dismissal normally takes place only after an employee has received an oral warning and a follow-up written reprimand which has been discussed with the employee. It is recognized there will be occasions when immediate dismissal is required. The library director shall inform the Chairman of the Library Board of the action taken.
Reasons for Disciplinary Action
Examples of Group I Offenses
- Consistently late to work without an acceptable excuse. Must make up time on the day the employee is late.
- Failure to properly check in at the beginning of a work shift
- Failure to report personal injury or accident
- Inattentiveness to work: loafing, wasting time, failing to start work at designated time, quitting before the proper time, or leaving the job during working hours without supervisor’s permission.
- Disregarding job duties by neglect of work, carrying on personal business, or reading for pleasure.
- Unexcused absence on one or more scheduled days of work.
- Excessive absenteeism.
- Failure to observe precautions for personal safety, posted rules, signs or instructions. Contributing to or creating unsafe conditions.
- Violating traffic regulations, reckless driving or improper operation of a motor vehicle owned by the library.
- Careless workmanship, resulting in spoilage or waste of materials.
- Failure to attend meetings without presenting an acceptable excuse.
- Distracting the attention of other employees.
- Rude behavior toward patrons
Examples of Group II violations:
- Smoking in unauthorized areas.
- Permitting any person who is not an employee of the library to ride in a library vehicle without written authorization of the supervisor. Volunteers must have written authorization in order to be covered by insurance.
- Unauthorized possession of, loss of, or damage to library property or the property of others, or endangering the same through carelessness.
- Gambling or unlawful betting on library premises.
- Covering up or attempting to conceal defective work; removing or destroying the same without permission.
- Use of library vehicles, library equipment, or library building for other than directed use.
- Disrespectful conduct: use of insulting, abusive, threatening, or obscene language toward public, subordinate, fellow employees or supervisor.
- Unauthorized use of library property for private work or performing private work on library time.
- Inefficiency in the performance of the position. “Inefficiency” shall be interpreted as job performance at a level lower than that normally displayed by employees holding similar positions as a consequence of neglect through a lack of effort.
- Incompetence in the performance of job responsibilities. “Incompetence” shall be interpreted as lack of ability, knowledge or fitness to perform duties reasonably within the scope of the position.
- Disorderly conduct.
- Threatening, intimidating, coercing or interfering with employees or supervision at any time.
- Sleeping during working hours.
- The making or publishing of false, vicious, or malicious statements concerning any employee, supervisor, the library, or its operations
- Sexual harassment or discrimination against an employee or applicant because of race, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, age or handicap, and any reprisal action against an employee for reporting such discrimination.
- Falsifying attendance records for oneself or another employee.
- Insubordination. Disobedience to constituted authorities or deliberate refusal to carry out any proper order from any supervisor having responsibility for the work of the employee.
Examples of Group III violations:
The following are one-time grounds for immediate dismissal:
- Fraud in securing employment.
- Actual theft or attempted theft of library property or the property of others.
- Willful misconduct or violation of library rules and regulations resulting in damage to public or private property or to any person.
- Unprovoked physical assault on another person.
- Involvement in the sale, delivery, receipt, or possession of any narcotic or alcoholic substance or committing any criminal or illegal act in connection with the library, either on the premises or off-site while engaged in library work. (See Drug Free Policy).
- Possession of firearms, explosives, or other weapons on library property.
- Accepting or soliciting bribes in the course of work. Solicitation or acceptance for personal use of any fee, gift, or other valuable thing which may be construed as a bribe when such is solicited or given to the employee in hope or expectation of receiving treatment better than that accorded other persons.
- Removal of library records or unauthorized release of confidential information or records about patrons or employees.
- Conviction of a felony while in the employ of the library; conviction of drunk or reckless driving while operating a library owned vehicle.
- Falsifications, misstatement, exaggeration, or concealment of material facts in connection with the employment, promotion, and record investigation or other proper proceeding concerning an employee or applicant.
F. 3. Prohibited Employee Conduct
Because library employees are in positions created for the public and funded by the public, the public has the right to expect that the incumbents in the positions will not abuse the trust placed in them by the public. Employees of the Athens Regional Library System are expected to observe local, state, and federal ordinances, codes and laws.
F. 3. a. Firearms and Weapons
As a condition of employment, Athens Regional Library System employees cannot bring firearms of any kind into library facilities. Firearms and other lethal weapons are not allowed in ARLS-owned vehicles.
F. 3. b. Visitors in the Library
Library staff is not permitted to use the library as a regular child care solution. Children of library staff, who must occasionally spend after-school or other extended periods of time in the library due to extenuating circumstances, will be expected to follow the same rules and policies which apply to all children in the library. Each staff member will be responsible for ensuring that library work remains a top priority, and that library time is not used for supervision of children. The following special provisions will apply:
- Children must not be given security codes to enter staff areas or corridors.
- A child may join his/her parent in the staff break room during the parent's regularly scheduled break. Children may not enter or remain in the break room unattended.
- If staff children become a disruption or distraction for staff, a supervisor may ask the staff member to make other arrangements for child-care.
- Staff children volunteering for work in the library must follow established ARLS volunteer policies and guidelines and be officially registered as volunteers.
Employees should limit their personal conversations with family members or acquaintances who visit the library. Visits are permissible, but should be infrequent and brief in order to maintain a productive work environment.
Restricted Access to Non-Public Areas of the Library
Access to non-public areas of the library is limited to current employees, registered volunteers, and scheduled maintenance or service workers. (For purposes of this section, non-public areas are those areas behind the public service desks, employee workrooms, employee offices, hallways, storage areas, computer equipment rooms, break rooms, and outdoor spaces designated for staff use only.) Volunteers should use public restrooms and vending areas instead of areas designated for staff use only. Other persons with business-related reasons to be in these areas (such as sales persons, vendors, or consultants) must be accompanied by an employee at all times. Codes to work area doors should be shared only with staff and facility service workers for connected local governments.
F. 3. c. Private Use of Library Property by Employees
All employees must protect library property from theft, loss, and damage. Library property includes knowledge and information as well as physical materials. Library equipment and supplies are intended for library business, not for personal use. Library property should not be removed from the library other than for library business unless pre-authorized by a Resource Team member or a Branch Manager. An employee borrowing library property is responsible for its safekeeping and timely return. The library reserves the right to inspect any vehicles parked on library property when there is reasonable suspicion of policy violations.
Violation of any part of this policy may be considered theft of property or services and subject employees to disciplinary or legal actions.
F. 3. d. Political Activities
An Athens Regional Library System employee may hold an elected or appointed public or governmental office, with the restriction that the employee must recuse him/herself from any and all discussions or votes which directly affect library funding, operations, or policy.
Employees are encouraged to exercise their right to vote and, on their own time, to take part in political activities. However, employees' rights to express their political opinions during work hours or as a representative of the library are limited.
No employee may engage in political activities, including displaying political campaign buttons or other apparel, at the work place or during work shifts. No employee may make use of library time, equipment, email accounts, or other resources to aid or endorse a political candidate, party, or cause; nor may any employee use his or her position at the library to persuade, coerce, or intimidate any other person in the interest of a political candidate, party, or cause. Bumper stickers or decals may not be applied to library property or library vehicles unless specifically approved by the Library Director or Assistant Directors.
All Athens Regional Library System employees should be free of any and all political persuasion or coercion in relationship to their employment, and/or from their supervisors and fellow employees, and should report any such attempted pressure to their supervisor or the Human Resources Officer.
F. 3. e. Canvassing, Solicitation, Literature Distribution
It is recognized that library employees may engage in the sale of goods or services outside of their employment with the library. However, it is never appropriate to solicit business from patrons during library work time.
Solicitation of, or distribution of literature to, staff members or the public, including visitors, by anyone for any purpose is prohibited on library property at all times except for the purposes conditions outlined in the following:
- Fund raising for Athens Regional Library System campaigns pre-approved by the Library Director;
- Collections for staff gifts and acknowledgements;
- Contributions for established charities pre-approved by the Library Director;
- Friends of the Library fund-raising events.
Information about fund raising events with which staff members are involved may be placed on the staff bulletin board (other than those boards reserved for official workplace legal postings) in staff break areas. Information regarding personal businesses may be distributed to other employees by placing ads on staff bulletin boards or by posting information or leaving catalogs or brochures in staff break areas.
Other than for library-approved projects, oral and written invitations to product parties, for distribution of other non-library information, to solicit funds, or to sell goods may not be made through interoffice “all-staff” emails.
F. 4. Off-duty Conduct
Athens Regional Library System will only apply disciplinary policies to off-duty conduct that affects ARLS’s business interests. Examples of off-duty conduct which may be subject to disciplinary actions include, but are not limited to, the following: off-duty harassment of ARLS employees; off-duty illegal conduct that occurs on library property; off-duty conduct that indicates violence or potential violence; off-duty illegal conduct that causes the employee to be unable to perform her or his essential job functions; off-duty disruptive actions at a library event; off-duty violations at the library of any provision of the Patron Conduct and Responsibilities policy.