(a) Purpose. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) disciplinary regulations and procedures are intended to provide a means of ensuring compliance with standards through reasonable and consistent disciplinary action, with flexibility to vary penalties, based on the seriousness and particular circumstances for each action.
(b) Scope. Discipline includes oral reprimand through discharge. OKDHS follows the principle of progressive discipline where, absent mitigating circumstances, repetition of an offense is accompanied by a generally automatic progression to the next higher level of discipline. These regulations pertain only to permanent, classified employees unless designated for other employees. OKDHS may amend its internal regulations at any time.
(c) Disclaimer and limitations. Internal personnel regulations of OKDHS are intended solely to assist OKDHS in implementing the Oklahoma Personnel Act and Merit System of Personnel Administration Rules (Merit Rules) for classified employees and to provide administrative guidance to OKDHS for at-will unclassified or at-will probationary employees. OKDHS personnel policies do not create an employment contract of any kind, including but not limited to duration or conditions of employment. For progressive discipline purposes, supervisors are prohibited from considering incidents that occurred longer than four years prior to an offense in order to move to a higher level of discipline. The prohibition does not apply to conduct involving:
- (1) criminal activity;
- (2) sexual misconduct or harassment;
- (3) racially discriminatory behavior or harassment;
- (4) threats or acts of violence against employees in the workplace; and
- (5) drug or alcohol use or abuse on the job.
(d) Definitions. The following words and terms used in this Section have the following meaning, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
- (1) "Corrective action plan (CAP)" means a formalized written plan to help an employee correct behavior or improve performance.
- (2) "Discipline" means oral reprimand, written reprimand, suspension without pay, involuntary demotion, or discharge. Discipline also includes a memorandum of instruction issued by the director of the Human Resources Management Division (HRMD) as statutorily mandated discipline.
- (3) "Local administrator" means the chief officer, division director, area director, resource center administrator, county director, or supervisor authorized to make discipline decisions.
- (4) "Memorandum of instruction" means a memorandum to the employee issued by the director of HRMD as statutorily mandated discipline when required.
- (5) "Personnel file" means the permanent file of the employee maintained in HRMD and the local file maintained in the employee's work location or other locations. An employee has a right to review and copy his or her personnel file(s). A memorandum of instruction issued per this subsection and correspondence from the Oklahoma Tax Commission is maintained by HRMD separately from permanent personnel files.
- (6) "Sexual harassment" means any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, or when submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. [Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, Part 1604, as amended]
- (7) "Repetition of an offense" means any violation of applicable policy, and is not limited to offenses of similar or identical nature as a prior offense.
(e) Corrective action plan (CAP). The CAP itself is not a disciplinary action. The CAP:
- (1) details a specific course of action to assist the employee's compliance with policy;
- (2) is used only as a part of a written reprimand, suspension without pay, or involuntary demotion;
- (3) lasts no longer than 90 days and provides at least one periodic review date; and
- (4) does not prevent OKDHS from proceeding with the next step of corrective discipline.
(g) Reassignment or removal from duty status pending an investigation of disciplinary action. An employee under investigation or awaiting a decision in a disciplinary action remains on duty if possible. The employee may be temporarily reassigned for up to 60 days or suspended with pay for 20 working days in a 12-month period.
(h) Documentation and removal of actions. A copy of any disciplinary document placed in an employee's personnel file is given to the employee. All copies of oral reprimands and written reprimands may be removed from all files after two years if the employee has had no subsequent discipline. An employee requests the removal of an oral reprimand or written reprimand to the HRMD corrective discipline manager. The written request is signed by the employee's immediate and reviewing supervisors.
(i) Causes for disciplinary action. OKDHS, when necessary, takes disciplinary action against an employee for violations of statute, policy, practice, directive, standard, or procedure regarding work performance or conduct. The categories of work performance or conduct that warrant discipline are described in this subsection.
- (1) Unsatisfactory performance. An employee's performance is unsatisfactory when performance fails to meet established standards and criteria for the position to which the employee is assigned. Unsatisfactory performance includes inefficiency or error. Unsatisfactory performance is, in most circumstances, correctable, and disciplinary action is normally preceded by appropriate efforts to identify the performance problems and correct the performance problems.
- (2) Misconduct. Misconduct includes any failure to comply with statute, policy, practice, directive, standard, or procedure directly governing performance and conduct. The specific policies governing an employee's work and conduct may vary depending on the individual job responsibilities and work location. Supervisory personnel are responsible for ensuring that employees are informed of and have available for review all applicable policy. Each employee is responsible for making reasonable efforts to stay informed of policy and any changes governing his or her duties and conduct. Misconduct further includes items listed in (A) through (I) of this paragraph.
- (A) Unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. Unauthorized disclosure of confidential information includes securing or attempting to secure access to confidential information without authorization.
- (B) Willful failure. Willful failure includes failure to follow established OKDHS policy, failure to attend training, and failure to complete required forms and reports.
- (C) Violation of time and leave policy. Time and leave violations include excessive or abusive tardiness, unexcused, unapproved, or excessive absences, abuse of leave, or unauthorized leave without pay.
- (D) Willful disobedience. Willful disobedience is the intentional disregard of supervisory directives or willful refusal to comply with such directives.
- (E) Insubordination. Insubordination, as distinguished from willful disobedience, means a general course of conduct evidencing disrespect, disdain, or contempt for OKDHS administrators, supervisory personnel, or other proper authorities.
- (F) Dishonesty. Dishonesty includes:
- (i) fraud committed in securing any appointment, promotion, or other advantage in employment;
- (ii) making false reports or claims;
- (iii) making false entries to misrepresent work performed;
- (iv) falsifying official forms or other documents;
- (v) criminal acts;
- (vi) knowingly withholding information of official interest;
- (vii) fraud committed in securing any service or benefit from any program administered by OKDHS; and
- (viii) failure to report a finding of guilt, plea of guilty, or nolo contendere to a felony charge.
- (G) Intoxication or the use or possession of alcoholic beverages or drugs during duty hours or on OKDHS property. Intoxication includes any impairment resulting from use of alcohol or drugs, including the unauthorized or illegal use of prescribed medications, or a positive alcohol or drug test result pursuant to OKDHS alcohol and drug testing policies.
- (H) Discourteous treatment of clients, other employees, or the general public. All staff are responsible for treating all persons with respect and courtesy and for ensuring that procedures employed in carrying out their responsibilities do not violate privacy or personal dignity, constitute harassment, or violate constitutional rights.
- (I) Misuse of state property or equipment. Misuse of state property or equipment includes theft, destruction, abuse, careless or reckless use of property or equipment, careless misplacement of property or equipment, careless or intentional waste of property or equipment, and use of state property for personal purposes, such as personal long distance telephone calls charged to the State, misuse of OKDHS e-mail, facsimile, computer, or the use of unauthorized software.
- (3) Medical limitations. Medical limitations include inability to perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation, due to medical limitations.
- (4) Neglect of duty. Neglect of duty includes absence from an assigned duty station without proper authorization, inexcusable failure to perform an assigned duty, and inexcusable inattention to assigned duties.
- (5) Conduct unbecoming a public employee. Conduct unbecoming a public employee includes any failure by an employee of good behavior either during or outside duty hours, which is of such a nature that it causes discredit to OKDHS.
- (6) Felony convictions. Any employee convicted of a felony charge or who pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a felony charge while employed by OKDHS is discharged.
- (7) Maltreatment of OKDHS clients. Employees and supervisors are aware of and follow policies and administrative directives concerning maltreatment of clients in the employee's care. Maltreatment includes abuse, neglect, verbal abuse, exploitation, caretaker misconduct, sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation.
- (8) Willful violation of the Oklahoma Personnel Act, Ethics Rules, or the Merit Rules. Willful violation of the Oklahoma Personnel Act, Ethics Rules, or Merit Rules includes conflicts of interest, prohibited political activities, and acts of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation of protected activity.
- (9) Dereliction of duty. Dereliction of duty is the failure of an employee to appear for duty for three consecutive working days and failure to contact his or her immediate or reviewing supervisor, or other delegated authority, during that three-day period to request authorization to be absent from duty and explain the reason(s) for the request. Progressive discipline is unwarranted for the employee who is derelict in his or her duty, and the employee is discharged.