Delta State University is an at will employer and as such reserves the right to terminate employment from any position at any time and for any reason. It is the policy of Delta State University to assist employees in improving job performance or correcting improper conduct to avoid termination when possible.


: This generally includes faculty and staff employees who are working on paid appointments by the University. It generally excludes students or temporary employees. For specific information on who is considered an employee, contact the Human Resources Department.

: An employee designated by management who exercises major supervisory functions over another employee or employees. These functions include hiring, evaluating, assigning work, and disciplining employees.

At-Will Employees:  All hourly and staff employees, who do not receive an employment contract, may be dismissed from employment for any reason or no reason, as long as it is not an illegal reason. 



Delta State University is committed to maintaining an environment conducive to the conduct of business and one in which the rights of others are respected. The University expects of its employees behavior consistent with the expectations of an institution of higher education. Part of the intent of this section is to identify typical offenses or behavior patterns for which disciplinary actions are taken. This is necessary in order to provide consistent treatment of all employees and so that the rights of some employees will not be violated by other employees.

Employees are expected to abide by departmental, University and Board of Trustees policies and procedures. It is the responsibility of the supervisor/department head to establish and communicate policies to employees, to administer policies fairly, and to investigate employee violations of policy when necessary before disciplinary action is taken. Disciplinary action will bear a reasonable relationship to the violation and will usually, but not always, be progressive.

The University reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to utilize forms of discipline less severe than termination in differing circumstances in order to correct employees’ performance problems or unacceptable behavior. Although one or more of the following procedures may be taken, no formal order or system is necessary, and the University may terminate employment at any time.

If any employee is performing unsatisfactorily or exhibiting improper conduct, the supervisor will work with the employee in an attempt to improve conduct or performance. If disciplinary measures are imposed, it is essential that:


  • Each problem be investigated so that the facts of the situation are known;
  • Any action taken be primarily corrective and appropriate to the offense and applied without discrimination;
  • Employees be given forewarning of the possible consequences of their actions, except in cases of misconduct so serious that employee could be expected to know that such conduct may result in discharge; and
  • A record of the incident in which disciplinary action may result must be made.

If corrective action is necessary, the progressive disciplinary steps outlined below will normally be followed. The nature or severity of the offense will determine the first step.

Step I. Documented Oral Warning. Once an employee performance/conduct problem has been identified, or where informal actions such as counseling, training, and assistance have not brought about acceptable performance/conduct, then a discussion should take place. The employee will be informed of his/her deficiencies and acceptable performance/conduct will be discussed. The discussion will be documented and the employee will be given a copy. A documented oral warning should normally be given in private by the supervisor to an employee as a first step in correcting minor deficiencies. (Some first offenses of a more serious nature may require stronger action.) Grievance procedures for faculty and staff do not apply to documented oral warnings. A recipient of such a warning may write a rebuttal to the warning to be included with the file.

Step II. Formal Warning. Formal warnings are to be used for recurring or more serious deficiencies or where there is future possibility of more severe action including termination or after an oral warning notice has been unsuccessful. Formal warnings are to be written to the employee and must indicate the date and specific nature of the deficiency and that more severe action may result if the employee does not correct the deficiency. The employee must be provided a copy of the warning and a copy sent to the Director of Human Resources. Grievance procedures for faculty and staff do not apply to formal warnings. A recipient of such a warning may write a rebuttal to the warning to be included with the file.

Step III. Suspension. If the employee’s misconduct or poor work performance continues, the next progressive disciplinary step is a suspension without pay. The suspension will be for three (3) working days and is the final disciplinary step prior to discharge. This action is taken where previous progressive disciplinary steps have not corrected the deficiency or where the offense is of such serious nature that it may warrant discharge, pending review of the facts. Very serious offenses may be cause for immediate suspension without the steps outlined above. Notices of suspension are placed in the employee’s personnel file. The supervisor and/or department head must have written approval from his/her reporting Vice-President before initiating a suspension. The employee must be provided a copy of the suspension warning and a copy sent to the Director of Human Resources.

Step IV. Dismissal. The University recognizes that dismissal for any reason is a serious matter. Termination of the employee is a last resort after all other progressive disciplinary measures have failed or if the misconduct is of such a serious nature that immediate discharge is warranted. Recommendation for dismissal should be reasonably related to the seriousness of the employee’s performance/conduct in view of length of service and prior record. Recommendations for dismissal of employees are initiated by the supervisor and/or department head and approved by the reporting Vice-President.

When necessary to institute a dismissal or involuntary termination, the following procedure will be pursued:

  1. All terminations must be reviewed for compliance with appropriate policies/procedures by Human Resources prior to notification to the employee.  Human Resources will ensure that dismissal is in accordance with the policy and practices of the University.
  2. The supervisor, in conjunction with Human Resources, will coordinate the termination interview with the affected staff. The notification shall be done by the supervisor or other designated manager in the presence of a Human Resources Representative. Human Resources may appoint a designee when a Human Resources representative cannot be physically present. No notification should take place without both the supervisor and the Human Resources representative present. At the interview, the immediate supervisor will notify the employee and provide a written notice of intent to terminate, in which the reasons for the termination are cited.
  3. In the event the affected employee is not available for an interview, the intent to terminate must be sent by certified or registered mail to the employee’s last known residence.
  4. The immediate supervisor shall simultaneously inform the eligible employee of the right to a hearing, which information will also be included in the written notice. The employee who is dismissed may appeal the decision through the hearing process outlined below. Moreover, the supervisor has the option in any such instance to suspend with pay any employee who requests a hearing.
  5. A copy of the termination letter is to be sent to the Director of Human Resources.

Hearing Procedure for Non-Tenure Track Faculty and Non Instructional Personnel

  1. A contracted employee entitled to a hearing by virtue of a notice of intent to terminate shall have two working days from the date of receipt of the notice of intent to request in writing a hearing before a Personnel Advisory Committee.
  2. The Director of Human Resources will notify the President of the request in writing for a hearing and will provide supporting documentation for the cause of termination within two working days from the receipt of the request for a hearing.
  3. The President will appoint a panel of five members outside of the employee’s work division from a list submitted by Human Resources of eligible faculty and staff within two working days of receiving notification to appeal from the Director of Human Resources One of the panel members will be appointed as Chair by the President. The Director of Human Resources will notify the committee appointees by email.
  4. The hearing shall occur within seven working days of the receipt of the request for a hearing.
  5. Based upon the evidence presented, the committee will then make a written recommendation to the President as it deems appropriate within three working days from the date of the hearing.
  6. The President will provide a decision in writing to the employee who requested a hearing within five working days. A copy of the letter will be given to Human Resources and the committee Chair.
  7. If the President affirms the dismissal, then termination becomes final as of the date of the President’s decision. Salary ceases as of the official date of termination.

Hearings will be private. Public statements are to be avoided by all parties concerned, so that an atmosphere conducive to a fair and impartial hearing may be maintained. The committee will not be bound by strict rules of evidence, but may admit any evidence that is of probative value in determining the issues involved. The staff member will be permitted an advisor of his own choice, at his own expense, and will be afforded an opportunity to present witnesses and documentary evidence bearing on the issue involved. The advisor may not speak, question, or present evidence during the hearing. The advisor may only advise the affected employee.

A different committee shall be appointed for each hearing. If the employee does not request a hearing, the employee’s salary ceases at the end of the second working day following the receipt of the notice of intent to terminate.

Human Resources reserves the right to modify the appeal and hearing timeline due to extenuating circumstances as needed.

At-will employees are not eligible to file an appeal or request a hearing for termination of employment. The salary for at-will employees will cease at the time of the receipt of the notice of intent to terminate.

Dismissal of Tenured Faculty, Tenure-Track Faculty and Non-Tenure Track Faculty
Dismissal procedures for faculty are governed by the Institutions of Higher Learning Policies and Bylaws, Sections 403, 403.0104 and 404.02

Hearing and Grievance Procedures for Tenured Faculty and Tenure-Track Faculty
For procedures on filing a hearing or grievance, please see the Faculty Grievance Process and Procedures Policy and the Institutions of Higher Learning’s Policies and Bylaws, Sections 403 and 404.

Responsible Office and/or Policy Owner:    Office of Human Resources







  • Policy Revised:  03/25/2015
  • Cabinet Approved:  04/06/2015
  • Policy Revised/Approved by Cabinet:  02/05/2018