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Disciplinary Actions Overview and FAQs

OKDHS’ disciplinary regulations and procedures are intended to provide a means of ensuring compliance with standard through reasonable and consistent disciplinary action, with flexibility to vary penalties, based on the seriousness and particular circumstances for each action. We follow 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.

Supervisors must make each employee aware of how to access Corrective Discipline policy – OKDHS:2-1-7 through OKDHS:2-1-13 – online. Employees who may not have regular access to a computer at their work location should be given a copy of the corrective discipline policy. Online corrective discipline training is available through the OKDHS Learning Management System (LMS) that is mandatory for all supervisors within their first year of appointment, but other employees may find it helpful as well.  See OKDHS:2-1-7(i) for Causes for disciplinary action.

Frequently Asked Questions about Corrective Discipline

Does the corrective discipline policy apply to probationary and unclassified employees?
In general, our corrective discipline regulations pertain only to permanent, classified employees, unless otherwise designated for other employees. Different parts of the Department’s corrective discipline policy apply to employees in various employment categories. It should be noted and understood that probationary and unclassified employees are employees-at-will and are not afforded many of the rights of classified employees.
What could be the causes for disciplinary actions?
  • Unsatisfactory performance
  • Misconduct
  • Unauthorized disclosure of confidential information
  • Willful failure
  • Insubordination
  • Dishonesty
  • Intoxication or the use or possession of alcoholic beverages or drugs during duty hours or on DHS property
  • Discourteous treatment of clients, other employees or the general public
  • Misuse of state property or equipment
  • Medical limitations
  • Neglect of duty
  • Conduct unbecoming a public employee
  • Felony convictions
  • Maltreatment of DHS clients
  • Willful violations of the Oklahoma Personnel Act, Ethics Rules or the Merit Rules
  • Dereliction of duty
What is progressive corrective discipline and how is it used?
Progressive corrective discipline uses of the following progressive steps for classified employees:

It is important to emphasize that corrective discipline does not always require the use of escalating penalties. The appropriateness of any disciplinary action must be judged on the basis of the seriousness and the particular circumstances surrounding the problem.

There are two other actions that are not technically disciplinary actions but are administrative tools used to either prepare for potential disciplinary actions or to help an employee correct behavior or improve performance. These two actions are: Suspension With Pay and Corrective Action Plan.

What is the burden of proof in a disciplinary action?
It must be evident that the employee violated the policy and the employee was aware of the policy before it was broken. The burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence.
When is documentation required?
All disciplinary actions must be documented by the supervisor administering the discipline, with a copy provided the employee. The employee is to be advised in writing they are receiving corrective discipline and the step of discipline being administered.
Can disciplinary actions be removed from my personnel files?
Copies of documentation of oral counseling, oral reprimands and written reprimands may be removed after 2 years following the date of the action provided no other disciplinary actions have been initiated during that period. You may submit a request in writing and have it signed by your immediate and reviewing supervisor and local administrator. The request is then submitted to the corrective discipline manager in the Human Resources Management for review, approval and removal. Suspensions without pay, involuntary demotions and discharge actions cannot be removed from an employee’s personnel files, without an order by the Merit Protection Commission or DHS legal directive to expunge documents.
Do performance evaluations have to be current to initiate corrective discipline?
Employee performance evaluations are to be initiated within 30 days following the date an employee enters on duty, and each employee is to be rated 30 days prior to the end of their probationary period. Thereafter, each employee is to be rated no less than once each year. Merit Rule 260:25-17-31(d), Subchapter 17, Part 3, directs that DHS shall use the performance evaluation of employees in decisions regarding promotions, demotions, performance pay increases and discharges.
Who administers corrective discipline?
Your immediate supervisor will administer any oral counseling and/or oral reprimands, with your immediate supervisor and reviewing supervisor issuing written reprimands. Suspensions without pay, involuntary demotions and discharges are administered only by chief officers, division directors or their designees.
Is Corrective Discipline training required for supervisors?
Yes. Merit Rule 260:25-17-93(b) requires all supervisors be trained in progressive corrective discipline within one year of becoming a supervisor.
How do I obtain training?
Open workshops are offered, with closed workshops scheduled upon request. Online corrective discipline training is available through the DHS Learning Management System.
How do I obtain more information about the Department’s corrective discipline policies?
For any other questions concerning corrective discipline, you may contact Kim Houck in the Human Resources Management at (405) 522-2089.