“Just Cause” is the disciplinary standard for represented and non-represented career Professional and Support Staff. At its core, just cause requires that employees are made aware of their performance or workplace conduct deficiencies and given a full and fair opportunity to improve before being terminated from employment.
The following criteria can be viewed as a definition of "just cause", the standard by which the reasonableness of the discipline will be judged.
A reasonable business rule.
Notice to the employee of the rule and that failure to follow the rule could result in discipline.
A full and fair investigation.
Substantial and persuasive evidence of the performance failure or misconduct.
That the discipline is nondiscriminatory and non-disparate.
A reasonable penalty given the employee's work history.
These elements can be boiled down to three points:
- Did the employee engage in the misconduct or performance failure for which they received discipline?
- At the time of the underlying conduct and/or performance failure, did the employee know that s/he could be disciplined for that conduct and/or performance failure?
- Is the penalty reasonable?
Early attention to any problem can reduce the potential of a major conflict developing, and supervisors/managers should contact us to discuss problem situations. The supervisor and employee will not always agree as to what constitutes just cause, and a grievance may result. If the discipline is to be effective, it must be administered in such a way as to sustain a challenge if a grievance is filed and eventually appealed to arbitration. Consultation with an Employee Relations Consultant is required prior to initiation of formal discipline (e.g., letter of warning, suspension, dismissal), and before, if possible, placing an employee on investigatory leave.