When a faculty member’s conduct is not in keeping with the behavior standards expected of an employee of The University of Alabama, the department chair or other appropriate administrative officer has the responsibility to investigate the situation and administer corrective action, if needed. Faculty members are subject to corrective action for violation of Board or University rules, regulations, or policies; departmental or college policies; or federal, state, or local laws or regulations.
The concept of progressive discipline acknowledges that a faculty member may have violated rules, laws, or policies or otherwise engaged in misconduct that, while serious, does not justify dismissal and/or loss of tenure. Activities of a faculty member that fall outside the scope of employment shall constitute misconduct only if such activities adversely affect the legitimate interests of the University. Examples of such conduct include, but are not limited to: 1) conduct, professional or personal, involving moral turpitude; and 2) actions that result in preventing other members of the University community from fulfilling their responsibilities or that create a clear and present danger to members of the University community.
Sanctions are disciplinary actions imposed on an individual that may include corrective action or punishment. Sanctions may extend from mild to severe and from informal to formal. Requiring a faculty member to complete in-person or online training on a policy, rule, regulation, or law to remediate a potential deficiency in understanding of appropriate behaviors or courses of action is generally not considered a punitive sanction, but rather is considered an educational responsibility.
In cases of an employment offense or misconduct, a range of sanctions short of dismissal is generally available. The range of sanctions from minor to severe constitutes progressive discipline.
Disciplinary action falls into two general categories: minor discipline and severe sanction. Minor discipline includes, but is not limited to, verbal reprimand, written reprimand, foregoing salary increase, restitution, monitoring of behavior and performance, and/or reassignment of duties.
Severe sanctions include suspension with or without pay or temporary or permanent reduction in appointment. In egregious cases of wrongdoing or where attempts at discipline have not successfully remedied performance concerns, a faculty member may be dismissed for cause.
In matters where the dean and the Provost concur that a faculty member’s continued performance of faculty duties poses a significant risk of harm to persons or property, the faculty member may be relieved of any or all duties and/or placed on leave with pay during the pendency of the mediation and grievance process.
In all faculty discipline, the University bears the burden of proof that adequate cause exists; it will be satisfied by a preponderance-of-evidence standard. The faculty member’s record should be considered as a whole when contemplating imposition of disciplinary action.
A first offense may warrant the most extreme penalty and loss of employment or tenure. Any sanctions imposed must be selected to meet the severity, frequency, and/or flagrant nature of the infraction. In some instances, the faculty member may be placed on leave with or without pay until final action is taken.
Appropriate sanctions may include, but are not limited to, the list below. These sanctions do not appear in hierarchical order.
A. Minor Discipline
- Oral or written reprimand or warning
- Reassignment to other duties (including removal from future teaching or research or ineligibility to apply for or receive research funds)
- Removal from extracurricular activities, committee assignments, or administrative assignments
- Restriction on travel abroad or domestic travel
- Loss of travel or research funds
- Loss of privileges of rank
- Reassignment of workspace
- Placement of a faculty member under the direct supervision of a specified administrator with a specific plan for remediation and for a specific period of time
- Transfer or reassignment
- Loss of summer teaching employment for those on less than 12-month contracts
- Fines or penalties
- Loss of merit raises
- Loss of protective benefits for a stated period of time (e.g., “regular” or “merit” increase in salary)
- Loss of eligibility for promotion for a stated period of time
B. Severe Sanctions
- Revocation of tenure and/or dismissal of a tenured faculty member for adequate cause
- Dismissal of a tenure-track (probationary) faculty member for adequate cause, before the end of the term specified by the Faculty Handbook
- Dismissal of a renewable contract faculty member before the end of the term specified in a contract or appointment letter between the University and the faculty member
- Suspension, with or without pay, of a faculty member from service for a stated period
- Reduction of a faculty member’s rank (demotion)
- Reduction of an academic year salary before the end of that academic year