Disciplinary Actions -
Selecting the Appropriate Penalty
Conduct problems involve the breaking of a rule, regulation, policy or
direction. Although not completely avoidable, taking the time to care and
communicate with an employee can help in preventing conduct problems. Also,
take time to reward or correct an employee when needed. Discipline is meant
to correct an employee’s conduct while maintaining high productivity,
discipline, and morale among all employees. When discipline becomes
necessary, the goal is to impose the minimum remedy that can reasonably be
expected to meet this objective.
- Before deciding on an appropriate penalty, management has the burden
of showing reasonableness of the remedy by demonstrating that
appropriate consideration was given to each of the applicable factors
within the 12 Douglas Factors. Some of the factors to consider when
selecting a penalty:
- Seriousness of the offense
- Prior disciplinary record
- Table of Offenses and Range of Remedies
- Medical issues
- Consistency of the action
- Other factors
- Disciplinary actions include:
- Letters of Reprimand
- Disciplinary actions are usually progressive; however, there may be
an incident of misconduct which is so serious that it warrants severe
action, including removal from employment, for the first offense.
- Remedies for offenses may vary. Greater or lesser penalties than set
out in the Guideline Schedules of Offenses and Remedies may be imposed
depending on mitigating or aggravating factors.
- In considering past offenses, oral counseling sessions and written
admonishments may not be counted as prior offenses in determining a
remedy. These may be cited, however, to show that the employee was
informed of acceptable level of conduct and performance.
- Letters of reprimand may be counted as prior offenses provided the
reckoning periods for the letters have not expired.
- Suspensions or reduction in grade or pay for disciplinary reasons
may be counted as prior offenses.
- Disciplinary actions become a matter of record in an employee’s
electronic official personnel folder (eOPF). However, Reprimands only
remain in an employee’s eOPF for up to 2 years.
- There are several useful tools that can be used in lieu of or in
addition to disciplinary actions to assist you with correcting conduct
problems. These tools should be considered during the early stages of
- Document oral counseling.
- Letters of counseling, cautions, warnings and letters of
requirement that are not placed in the eOPF.
- Placing the employee on a Letter of Requirement for leave abuse
is an effective tool.
- Training (team building, interpersonal skills, etc.) or closer
supervision may assist in correcting misconduct.
- Employee Assistance Program – free, confidential, counseling service
provided to the employee experiencing personal problems that might
impact his/her performance/conduct on the job. A bargaining unit
employee covered by a Negotiated Agreement may have special requirements
involving some of the tools mentioned above. Refer to the Negotiated
Agreement before taking any actions.
- The supervisor and Command Staff Advisor (CSA)/HR Specialist have
different roles during this process:
- Contact the CSA/HR Specialist
- Assess the situation
- Gather facts
- Decide what action to take
- CSA/HR Specialist:
- Research case law
- Analyze case and review case file
- Recommend range of remedies
- Write all letters and maintain files
- Provide advice and guidance throughout the process
- Job relatedness is key in actions. As the supervisor, you have a
right to expect good conduct, performance, and attendance. When problems
in these areas arise, remember to DOCUMENT. Your actions are subject to
internal and/or external review and must be supported with good