Your rights in the workplace: discipline, termination and just cause

An extremely important right guaranteed by a union contract is that an employee can only be disciplined or terminated for "just cause." Just cause means the employer cannot exercise the power to discipline and fire for capricious, arbitrary or discriminatory reasons. Specifically, just cause requires the following:

NOTICE. Management must give the employee warning or notice that the employee is violating a rule or policy, and must tell the employee what the rule or policy is.

REASONABLE. The rule or policy must be reasonable and related to the orderly, efficient and safe operation of the university.

INVESTIGATION. The employer must make an investigation to determine whether the employee did in fact violate the rule or policy cited.

FAIR INVESTIGATION. The investigation must be conducted fairly and objectively.

EVIDENCE. The university must have solid evidence of the violation of the rule or policy. You are entitled to receive copies of this evidence.

EQUAL TREATMENT. The rules or policies must be applied equally. They cannot be applied in a disparate, discriminatory or arbitrary manner.

APPROPRIATE. The discipline must be appropriate and reasonably related to (a) the seriousness of the employee's proven offense and (b) the record of the employee.

An important corollary is that discipline must be progressive. It is intended to correct a problem, not to be punitive. Management must give the employee a reasonable opportunity to correct the problem for which discipline was imposed. More severe discipline, including termination, can only follow after lesser discipline has been imposed.

If you are facing discipline, analyze your situation using the above criteria, then contact UPTE for help.