The majority of faculty go through their careers without encountering disciplinary procedures. Should faculty members find themselves in a situation where discipline may be warranted, disciplinary principles are laid out in Article 25—Discipline.
In the context of the Collective Agreement, Discipline refers to penalties imposed in response to faculty misconduct. Faculty may be disciplined, for example, for harassing colleagues or students, misuse of university equipment, or for vandalizing university property.
Discipline related to MRFA members can only be imposed by people who are not members of the MRFA. That usually means that Disciplinary proceedings are carried out by the Dean.
Yes. The Collective Agreement says that you “may not be disciplined for violation of a rule, regulation or instruction unless that rule, regulation or instruction has been promulgated, and communicated to the Employee, by the appropriate authority, and does not violate this agreement.” However,
Sometimes disciplinary situations are straightforward, but at other times faculty members may disagree on whether their behaviour merits disciplinary measures. For instance, a faculty member may believe that shouting at an administrative assistant was “letting off steam,” while the administrative assistant and/or witnesses to the event might feel it is an example of bullying. In such cases, the Dean might decide to recommend the situation be investigated by a third party.
There are only four disciplinary measures allowed in Article 25.
While these measures are normally followed in sequence, there are cases in which the seriousness of the offense merits a stronger penalty. For instance, an employee found guilty of physical assault will likely receive more than a letter of warning.
You are always allowed to respond to accusations made against you or to disciplinary sanctions. If a record of discipline is placed in your employee file, you can provide a written response which will also be placed in your file.
You may wish to talk to the Faculty Association about a potential grievance. See below.
A faculty member may always discuss their situation with the Association. In cases in which the penalty is a letter of warning or reprimand, the faculty member can request a Step 1 meeting with the Dean, the first step in the grievance process.
In cases of suspension without pay or dismissal, grievances are always begun at Step 2. However, it is the Association’s decision whether or not to launch a grievance. It is important to recognize that the Association does not have a role in determining whether discipline was merited in the first place. If, for example, an investigation concludes that a faculty member misused university resources, it would be unlikely for the Faculty Association to argue that the faculty member was innocent. The Association might, however, grieve on a procedural issue or regarding the nature of the discipline.
Example: Faculty member shouts insults at colleague B. When Faculty member B complains that this incident is part of a pattern of verbal abuse, Faculty member A says that it was all a misunderstanding and that there was no intention to cause harm. Faculty member B disagrees. Without first talking to Faculty member A, the Dean initiates an investigation through a consulting firm which specializes in employee conflicts and allegations of harassment; and the investigation finds that Faculty member A has consistently belittled colleague B. The Dean recommends to the President of the University that Faculty member A be dismissed, and the President agrees. Faculty member A is dismissed from the University.
In this case, the Association would not challenge the conclusions of the investigation, since the investigators were qualified to investigate and to determine, based on the evidence, whether the allegations are substantiated. The Association might, however, decide to grieve on all or any of the following points.
Some might find the idea of the Association representing a proven harasser distasteful. However, the Association has a duty to represent all its members (duty of fair representation). The Association does not condone inappropriate behaviour, but it has a duty to support all members through the disciplinary process.
Remember: If you are accused of wrongdoing and face disciplinary procedures, you should contact the MRFA Labour Relations Officer for advice.