Conduct & Discipline
The contents included in this handbook in no way modify or amend the right of SWOSU as an at-will employer in originating or terminating employment of personnel. At-will employment is for no specified term and is terminable at the will of either the employee or the employer. Only the President may alter an individual’s employment at-will status and they will only do so in writing. No other process, expressed or implied, will negate the right of SWOSU to terminate employment at any time, without notice and without cause.
Disciplinary procedures in the Handbook are advisory and not binding and may be adjusted or modified at the discretion of the President, the senior officers and/or their designees.
The need for disciplinary procedures may arise for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, concerns arising from an individual’s unacceptable performance, conduct and/or attendance.
When discipline is necessary, steps may include, but are not limited to, verbal warning, written warning, administrative leave and/or termination. The guidelines are not expected to be rigidly applied, but may be suitable for many disciplinary situations. Depending upon circumstances in individual cases, repeating a step, deleting a step(s) or moving to immediate termination may be appropriate. Should an employee’s conduct warrant, directors and supervisors may temporarily grant leave with pay. Additionally, the listing does not prohibit SWOSU from pursuing other corrective discipline deemed appropriate.
The refusal to perform an illegal act shall not be regarded as insubordination. An employee directed to perform an illegal act should report such information to HR or one of the senior administrators.
SWOSU affirms its commitment to ensuring an environment for employees and students that is fair and respectful. Additionally, SWOSU is committed to providing a work environment that is free of discrimination. Demeaning actions, words, jokes or comments based on an individual's race, color, national origin, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information or status as a veteran will not be tolerated.
Title IX Statement: SWOSU is a zero tolerance environment related to any kind of discrimination or harassment. This includes sexual and gender related discrimination as covered by Title IX. It states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
The SWOSU community is dedicated to equity and access without prejudice. To that end the President has named Co-Title IX-Coordinators: Vice President for Human Resources David Misak (580-774-3275) and Dean of Students Cindy Dougherty (580-774-3767.)
SWOSU affirms its commitment to an environment for employees and students which is safe, fair, humane, and respectful and which supports and rewards employee and student performance on the basis of relevant considerations such as ability and effort. Behaviors which inappropriately assert sexuality as relevant to employee or student performance are damaging to this environment. Sexual harassment by members of the University community is a violation of both law and RUSO Board policy and will not be tolerated. Employees must refrain from harassment or discriminatory treatment of students and other employees. Sexual harassment will be dealt with promptly and confidentially by the SWOSU administration.
Definition of Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment shall be defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature in the following context:
- when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic standing,
- when submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individual or
- when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment.
Examples of Prohibited Conduct: Whether in person, in writing, by telephone, through social media, by electronic means, or otherwise, conduct prohibited by this policy includes, but is not limited to:
- unwelcome sexual flirtation; advances or propositions for sexual activity
- continued or repeated verbal abuse of a sexual nature, such as suggestive comments and sexually explicit jokes
- sexually degrading language to describe an individual
- remarks of a sexual nature to describe a person's body or clothing
- display of sexually demeaning objects and pictures
- offensive physical contact, such as unwelcome touching, pinching, brushing the body;
- coerced sexual intercourse
- sexual assault
- actions indicating that benefits will be gained or lost based on response to sexual advances.
Sexual Violence Prohibited: Sexual violence is a particularly malicious form of sexual harassment. Sexual violence on campus, at SWOSU related events, and against students or employees constitutes an emergency that will be reported to proper law enforcement authorities. The University may immediately suspend any employee or student reasonably believed to have committed sexual violence against a person in violation of this policy, with notice and hearing to follow promptly. SWOSU has established procedures for timely reporting, investigation, and resolution of sexual violence incidents.
Definition of Sexual Violence: Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to, rape as defined by 21 Okla. Stat. § 1111; rape by instrumentation as defined by 21 Okla. Stat. § 1111.1; forcible sodomy as defined by 21 Okla. Stat. § 888, assault as defined by 21 Okla. Stat. § 641 when committed in a sexual context, in furtherance of sexual demands, or because of a person’s sex or sexual orientation; battery as defined by 21 Okla. Stat. § 642 when committed in a sexual context, in furtherance of sexual demands, or because of a person’s sex or sexual orientation; aggravated assault and battery as defined by 21 Okla. Stat. § 646 when committed in a sexual context, in furtherance of sexual demands, or because of a person’s sex or sexual orientation; stalking as described by 21 Okla. Stat. § 1173 when committed in a sexual context, in furtherance of sexual demands, or because of a person’s sex or sexual orientation; sexual battery as defined by 21 Okla. Stat. § 1123(B); any sexual act involving a child as described in 21 Okla. Stat. 1123(A); maliciously intimidating or harassing or attempting to maliciously intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s sex or sexual orientation; or inciting others, or attempting to incite others to maliciously intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s sex or sexual orientation.
Retaliation: An attempt to penalize or retaliate against a person for filing a complaint or participating in the investigation of a complaint of prohibited sexual conduct with a student or employee, sexual violence or other sexual harassment will be treated as a separate and distinct violation of policy.
Sanctions: Appropriate disciplinary action may include a range of actions, up to and including termination of employment.
Complaint Process: This policy is in addition to the current Board and university policies concerning discrimination and applies to students, faculty, staff, guests and visitors. Complaints alleging prohibited sexual conduct with a student or employee, sexual violence, or other violation of the sexual harassment policy will be reviewed and investigated by the appropriate university office.
Complaints may be resolved informally or may proceed through the applicable formal complaint proceedings. Complaints may be filed in the following manner:
- Complaints against students or student organizations shall be filed with the Dean of Students for review and investigation. The Dean of Students may assist in the informal resolution of the complaint or in processing a complaint through HR, SWOSU deans, or any of SWOSU’s executive officers.
- Complaints against faculty or staff shall be filed with HR. The designated official may assist in the informal resolution of the complaint or in processing a formal complaint through the chain-of-command above their supervisor, up to and including the President. Additionally, the complaint may be taken to SWOSU’s executive officers.
- Complaints against visitors, guests, vendors, contractors or any other person should be directed to the Campus Police Department, HR, SWOSU deans or any of SWOSU’s executive officers.
- Any other appropriate process as established by SWOSU policy.
SWOSU affirms its commitment to the fair exercise of academic and employment power and adequate protection of individuals with limited power. SWOSU employees, including administrators; faculty; coaches; extracurricular, extramural and intramural activities supervisors; graduate assistants; and staff should demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as academic guides, counselors and facilitators. Employees must refrain from any exploitation of students and other employees. Such use of power to create sexual relationships will be dealt with promptly and confidentially by SWOSU administration.
Sexual Conduct with Students Prohibited: No employee shall knowingly engage or knowingly attempt to engage in consensual or nonconsensual sexual conduct with a student whom the employee supervises, acts as academic advisor for or over whom the employee has any power to determine the student’s grade; honors; discipline; research opportunity; scholarship opportunity; acceptance in a graduate or other program of study; participation in arts, athletic, academic, or extracurricular competition; work-study assignment; or similar education-related matter. University employees’ sexual liaisons with students in such situations exploit position, abuse power and fundamentally harm the academic relationship. Voluntary intoxication with drugs, alcohol or other substances shall not negate knowledge.
Sexual Conduct with Supervisee Prohibited: Supervisors’ sexual liaisons with their supervisees may exploit position, abuse power and fundamentally harm the working environment. No supervisor may knowingly engage or knowingly attempt to engage in consensual or nonconsensual sexual conduct with an employee, not his or her spouse, whom he or she supervises, directly or indirectly. Voluntary intoxication with drugs, alcohol or other substances shall not negate knowledge.
Definition of Sexual Conduct: Sexual conduct includes, but is not limited to, any sex act, erotic touching, romantic flirtation, conversation of a carnal nature, advance or proposition for sensual activity, erotically explicit joke, remark of a carnal nature describing a person’s body or clothing, display of an erotic object or picture and physical contact reasonably believed to be of a sensual or flirtatious manner.
Sexual conduct does not include reasonable use or delivery of bona fide lecture and/or instructional acts, statements or materials, explicit joke, remark of a carnal nature describing a person’s body or clothing, display of an erotic object or picture and physical contact reasonably believed to be of a sensual or flirtatious manner.
Sanctions: Sexual conduct with students or employees in violation of this policy will not be tolerated. Appropriate disciplinary action may include a range of actions, up to and including dismissal and/or expulsion.
Exceptions:Exceptions to sexual conduct prohibitions consistent with state and federal law may be granted in appropriate circumstances by SWOSU’s President. The RUSO Board shall be notified of any such exceptions in a written, confidential personnel record at least one week prior to the next RUSO Board meeting. Exceptions involving Presidents may be granted by the RUSO Board only.
Individuals are available to advise and assist employees who have a question, problem or complaint about working conditions. Most concerns can be resolved by informal discussions between the parties involved. Employees may prefer to seek assistance from their supervisor on such matters. Additionally, HR is available to assist employees.
Informal Grievance: Employees are encouraged to resolve matters in an informal manner. The following steps are suggested to resolve questions or employment dissatisfaction in an informal manner:
SWOSU uses an open door policy to resolve issues that cause concern with work conditions, university policy, safety and other matters. It is often the case that the supervisor closest to the matter is best suited to resolve the issue. Thus, individuals are encouraged to seek direction from their immediate supervisor to resolve concerns as they arise. However, should an employee’s supervisor not address the matter to an individual’s satisfaction or should an individual prefer, they may contact an administrator in their supervisors chain-of-command, HR and/or a senior administrator.
Formal Grievance: A formal complaint may be presented due to the dissatisfaction that occurs when an employee believes a condition of their employment is unjust, inequitable or a substantial hindrance to effective operation. The employee shall present the facts, in writing, to the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources. A formal complaint must contain the following:
- a clear, detailed, signed and dated statement of the complaint,
- a summary outlining with whom the points of dissatisfaction were discussed and what results were realized from these discussions and
- the specific remedial action or relief sought.
The Assistant Vice President for Human Resources or appropriate designee will consider the formal grievance. A written response will be provided to the employee. Should the employee so desire, an appeal may be filed with the Vice President of Administration and Finance within 10 working days. Should the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources or the Vice President of Administration and Finance be named in the formal grievance and/or have such a relationship with the accused or the accuser that a report could legitimately be contested on the grounds of bias, an alternate decision maker shall be appointed.
Knowingly providing false information or failure to cooperate with a SWOSU review may lead to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Retaliation: An attempt to penalize or retaliate against a person for filing a complaint or participating in the investigation of a complaint will be treated as a separate and distinct violation of SWOSU policy. As such, appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, may occur.
SWOSU forbids verbal or written threats or behavior that is likely to lead to violence. An employee who feels they have been the victim of a violent act should notify their immediate supervisor and/or the Assistant Vice President for Human Resources. In a severe instance, where immediate response or assistance is required, the employee can access the Campus Police Department at 580.774.3111 (Ext. 3111) and/or local law enforcement by dialing 911.
Employees who are the victim of a violent act should be prepared to report who the assailant(s) was, name(s) of witnesses and information detailing the events that led up to the violent act.
Employees seeking additional or more detailed information regarding violence in the workplace may contact the Campus Police Department.