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Frequently Asked Questions

Progressive Discipline

What is progressive discipline?

Progressive discipline is designed to ensure the consistency, impartiality, and predictability of discipline, and the flexibility to vary penalties if justified by aggravating or mitigating conditions. Generally, penalties range from verbal warning to discharge, with intermediate levels of a written warning, suspension or demotion. Unless there are mitigating circumstances, repetition of an offense generally results in progression to the next higher level of discipline. Based on circumstances, a single incident may justify a higher step of discipline without proceeding through lowest steps of discipline. Progressive discipline is a tool appointing authorities use to maintain a safe and productive working environment for all employees.

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Who is responsible for establishing a progressive discipline policy?

The Merit Rules adopted by the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission (Commission) establish a progressive discipline policy and progressive discipline steps for the classified service. Appointing authorities of Merit System agencies establish progressive discipline policies and steps to address the specific needs of their agencies that are consistent with the Merit Rules.

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What are appointing authorities' responsibilities for progressive discipline?

An appointing authority must furnish each classified employee a copy of the agency's progressive discipline policy and must follow the policy in disciplining classified employees. Each appointing authority ensures supervisors promptly apply discipline that is equitable and suitable for the offense considering the circumstances.

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What are supervisors' responsibilities for progressive discipline?

Supervisors must:

  • inform employees of the agency's progressive discipline policy;
  • apply discipline when necessary that is corrective, equitable, progressive in nature, and appropriate for the offense;
  • consider relevant circumstances when determining the proper disciplinary action; and
  • use prompt, positive action to avoid more serious disciplinary actions.

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What about disciplinary records?

Agencies maintain documentation of formal disciplinary actions in the employee's personnel record. An agency must give a copy of any formal disciplinary document to the employee when the agency files the document in the employee's agency personnel record. The employee may review disciplinary documents in his or her agency personnel record.

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What is the first phase of progressive discipline?

The first phase of progressive discipline is informal discipline, which may include steps of verbal warning, informal discussion, corrective interview and oral reprimand. This phase streamlines the progressive discipline system and brings potential problems to the employee's attention before the problems get worse. Both the supervisor and the employee may document informal discipline.

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What is the second phase of progressive discipline?

The second phase of progressive discipline is formal discipline, which includes written reprimand, suspension without pay, involuntary demotion and discharge. Unless there are aggravating conditions, a supervisor normally administers formal discipline after informal discipline fails to produce acceptable results.

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What is a written reprimand?

A written reprimand is a letter, memo, or other document an appointing authority or supervisor gives an employee to record and correct violations of statute, rule, policy, practice, or procedure regarding work performance or behavior. The supervisor gives the employee an opportunity to respond and attaches the employee's written response to the written reprimand.

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What are the causes for discharge, suspension without pay or involuntary demotion?

An agency may discharge, suspend without pay, or involuntary demote an employee in the classified service for:

  • misconduct,
  • insubordination,
  • inefficiency,
  • habitual drunkenness,
  • inability to perform the duties of the position in which employed,
  • willful violation of the Oklahoma Personnel Act or of the rules adopted by the Office of Personnel Management or by the Commission,
  • conduct unbecoming a public employee,
  • conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or
  • any other just cause.

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What if I am suspended without pay or involuntarily demoted?

Before suspending you without pay or involuntarily demoting you, your agency gives you notice of the proposed action. Your agency also gives you an opportunity, either in writing or orally, to present reasons why the agency should not suspend you without pay or involuntary demote you. Within 10 working days after your opportunity to respond, the agency gives you written notice of their final action by personal service or certified or registered mail. The notice must include:

  1. the statute, rule, policy, practice or procedure regarding work performance or behavior that you violated;
  2. the agency's grounds for the action;
  3. a citation of the law or rule under which the action is being taken;
  4. the effective date and inclusive dates of the suspension without pay or the job family level and pay band to which demoted;
  5. a citation of any other informal or formal discipline the agency used in the decision to demote you or suspend you without pay; and
  6. a statement of your right to file an appeal with the Commission, of the 20 calendar day time limit for the Commission's receipt of the appeal, the address of the Commission, and a copy of the Commission's petition for appeal form.

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What if I am discharged?

Before discharging you, your agency conducts a pretermination hearing before the appointing authority or his or her designee. The agency sends you notice of the pretermination hearing at least seven calendar days in advance. The agency makes an audio tape of the pretermination hearing and provides you a copy, at no cost, if you request one.

Within 10 working days after the pretermination hearing, the agency gives you written notice of discharge by personal service or certified or registered mail. The notice includes:

  1. the statute, rule, policy, practice or procedure regarding work performance or behavior which you violated;
  2. all grounds for the discharge;
  3. a citation of the law or rule under which the action is being taken;
  4. the effective date of the discharge;
  5. a citation of any other informal or formal discipline the agency used in the decision to discharge you; and
  6. a statement of your right to file an appeal with the Commission, of the 20 calendar day time limit for the Commission's receipt of the appeal, the address of the Commission, and a copy of the Commission's petition for appeal form.

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Where can I get more information about progressive discipline?

Read this material:

Contact the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission by:

  • E-Mail
  • Telephone: (405) 525-9144
  • Regular mail:

Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission
3545 NW 58th Street, Suite 360
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105