Personnel Manual Issuance SystemDisciplineDistrict Personnel Instruction No. 16-18Effective DateExpiration DateRelated DPM ChaptersJune 22, 2016Retain Until Superseded16NOTE: This instruction supersedes E-DPM Instruction No.16-13, same subject, dated February 23,2016. The purpose of this instruction is to add a standalone copy of the table of illustrativeactions and new sample final decision templates for reprimands and suspensions.OverviewThe District of Columbia takes a positive approach toward employee management toachieve organizational effectiveness by using a progressive system to address performanceand conduct issues. Managers must reliably establish and communicate reasonableperformance and conduct standards that serve the public trust. Each employee has aresponsibility to perform his or her duties to the best of his or her ability and to thosestandards established by management. When an employee fails or refuses to meet applicablestandards, management has an obligation to take appropriate action, to ensure governmentalintegrity.This instruction outlines general procedures for progressively addressing employees who fallshort of performance and conduct standards.In this InstructionReasonable, Fair, and Consistent . 3Employee and Employer Responsibilities .4Supervisor and Managers . 4Employees . 4Gathering the Facts . 5Evidence . 5Employment History . 5Progressive Discipline . 6Informal Resolution . 6DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20161

Preparation . 7Outcome . 7Next steps . 8Verbal Counseling . 8Preparation . 8Counseling Session . 9Follow-up. 9Formal Actions . 9Proposing Official .10Deciding Official .10Reprimands .10The Written Reprimand.10Service .11Employee Response .11Record Keeping .11Suspensions (Less than 10 Days) .12Notice of Proposed Action .12Service .12Employee Response .13Final Decision .13Record Keeping .13Adverse Actions .14Notice of Proposed Action .14Service .15Assignment of Administrative Review Officers .15Selecting the Review Officer .15Notifying the Review Officer .16Employee Response .16Final Decision .16Record Keeping .17Legal .17Authorities .17Applicability.17Additional Information .18Attachment 1 – Table of Illustrative Actions .19Attachment 2 – Verbal Counseling Follow-Up .28Attachment 3 – Sample Proposed Reprimand .30DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20162

Attachment 4 – Sample Final Decision Reprimand.33Attachment 5 – Proposing Official’s Rationale Worksheet .36Attachment 6 – Sample Notice of Proposed Suspension (Less than 10 Days) .41Attachment 7 – Sample Final Decision [Suspension 10 Days] .45Attachment 8 – Sample Notice of Proposed [Adverse Action] .49Attachment 9 – Sample Final Decision – [Adverse Action] .53Reasonable, Fair, and ConsistentAs with any organization, the District government operates with required standards ofbehavior, conduct and performance. While many standards are written, such as the D.C.personnel regulations and agency-level policies, there are general standards of behavior thatare implied in any employer/employee relationship.It is important that the disciplinary process is viewed as a means by which employees arehelped and encouraged to achieve and maintain the required standards of conduct andbehavior. Chapter 16 of the D.C. personnel regulations, Corrective and Adverse Actions;Enforced Leave; and Grievances, and this instruction help ensure – for the benefit of boththe District government as an employer and its employees – that any shortfalls in anemployee's conduct are dealt with effectively and in a reasonable, fair, and consistent manner.In summary, “reasonable” and “fair” mean: Managers should raise and deal with issues promptly and should not unreasonablydelay meetings, decisions, or confirmation of those decisions; Managers should act consistently; Managers should carry out any necessary investigations to establish the facts of thecase before any decisions are made; Managers should inform employees of the basis of the problem and give them anopportunity to offer an explanation and to put the employee’s version of the factsforward before any decisions are made; Managers should allow employees to be accompanied at any formal disciplinarymeeting by a union representative or other representative of their choice; and Managers should allow an employee to appeal any formal disciplinary decision madeunder the proper disciplinary procedures.DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20163

Employee and Employer ResponsibilitiesSupervisor and ManagersThe District government, as the employer, must ensure that employees are aware ofapplicable standards of conduct and behavior and provide those employees with areasonable opportunity to fulfill and understand the consequences of not meeting thoserequirements. These obligations are typically met through documents issued by thepersonnel authority (typically the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR)), theemploying agency, and applicable labor agreements, which advise employees about Districtand agency rules, procedures and standards, and through managers advising and remindingemployees of these rules, procedures and standards.In particular, managers should: Ensure that employees are aware of any rules, procedures and standards applicable totheir role and function, and understand what is required of them; When necessary, provide guidance and training to employees to enable them to meetthese standards; and Ensure that employees are aware of the consequences of not complying with theserules, procedures and standards.EmployeesThere are general standards of conduct which are implicit in any employment contract and,therefore, form contractual expectations which the District government can expect of itsemployees. In particular, employees are expected to: Act in a manner congruent with the interests and standards of the District ofColumbia government, both at work and outside of work; Devote their full attention while at work to the duties of their position; Act with responsibility, judgment and good faith when exercising the duties of theirposition; Carry out any reasonable instruction given by a District officer, manager orsupervisor relating to those duties; and Never, under any circumstances, divulge to any unauthorized person, or makepersonal use of, confidential information connected with the District of Columbia,its employees, residents, businesses or visitors.In addition to the above implied rules, all employees are expected to comply with publishedDistrict policies, procedures and standards, including, but not limited to, the D.C. MunicipalDPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20164

Regulations, District Personnel Manual, the Ethical Code of Conduct, Mayor’s Orders, andpolicies published by the employing agency.Gathering the FactsBefore a supervisor can take any action, he or she must obtain all the relevant facts. A “fact”is an actual event or circumstance.EvidenceFor each fact supporting an allegation of misconduct, the supervisor must havecorresponding evidence proving that fact. Sources of fact include: Documents (both physical and electronic); Tangible objects; or Witness statements.Witness Statements: Whenever your “facts” are proven by the statements of others, it is stronglyadvisable to secure a witness statement. This could be in the form a written witness statement,an e-mail, or affidavit.Employees have multiple avenues of appeal, particularly in actions involving lengthy suspensionsor removal. Often, witnesses become unavailable at later stages of litigation, and writtenstatements are indispensable.Employment HistoryIn addition to evidence that may support a specific allegation of misconduct, supervisorsmust also gather evidence that supports the appropriate corrective response. This evidenceincludes, but is not limited to: Employment and work history (i.e., official personnel folder,evaluations); Agency personnel file (including notifications of policies and procedures); Position description; Disciplinary record; and/or Past discipline imposed by the agency for similar conduct.DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 2016performance5

Progressive DisciplineOnce all the facts are known, the employee’s supervisor is in a position to ascertain the mostappropriate corrective response. For minor concerns, an informal and collaborativeapproach may be the best response (see the next section, Informal Resolution.)When an employee’s conduct fails to meet expectations and informal resolution is notappropriate, management must turn to the progressive disciplinary system, which includesthe following steps:1.Verbal counseling;2.Reprimand;3.Corrective action; and4.Adverse action.While the District employs a progressive disciplinary process, strict adherence to the progressivesteps will not always be appropriate. The resulting agency action will be dictated by applyingthe factors outlined at § 1606.2 of the regulations, which may produce an action that skips oneor more of the progressive discipline steps.For example, if an employee gets into a physical fight with a customer and, without justification,seriously injuries the customer, corrective or adverse action might be the appropriate firstresponse, even if the employee has no disciplinary history.Using the Proposing Official’s Rationale WorksheetIn order to choose the appropriate action, agencies must apply the factors outlined in §1606.2. These factors include, but are not limited to, an employee’s work history, the impactof the behavior on the agency, and the potential of the employee to be rehabilitated.Consideration of these factors should be made by utilizing the Proposing Official’s RationalWorksheet (Attachment 5). The worksheet asks a series of questions related to the factorsthat includes an analysis of the facts gathered during the initial investigation and should helpthe agency decide what type of action should be taken based on the egregiousness of thebehavior in juxtaposition to the factors. Upon completion of the worksheet, the agencyshould prepare the notice of proposed action.Informal ResolutionMany potential disciplinary issues can be resolved by the manager or supervisor interveningat an early stage as part of their normal day-to-day responsibilities. In many instances, goodmanagement should prevent recourse to formal procedures. The probation process isparticularly important for communicating standards of conduct and performance.In cases of minor breaches of discipline (e.g. lateness for work, careless mistakes, lack ofattention to detail/instructions/procedures), the immediate supervisor should discuss theseconcerns with the employee to ensure that the employee is:DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20166

Aware of the concerns; Knows what is required to meet expected standards of conduct; Made aware of the timescale over which an improvement is required; and Made aware of the consequences of not achieving the required standard.This is not a stage in the formal progressive disciplinary process. It is part of the standardday-to-day relationship between managers and the people they manage. However, in certaincircumstances, it will be necessary for the discussion and outcome to be confirmed in writingas it may become necessary to pursue the issue through the formal process if there is a reoccurrence or a failure to improve to the required standard.PreparationBefore speaking to the employee, the manager should consider the following points: What are the facts, what is the evidence? What are the standards expected? Are these standards clear? Are there any factors you are aware of which may be relevant (e.g., health, domesticdifficulties, lack of training or supervision)? How can the issue be corrected, what should be done differently in the future? Remember that the objective is to improve conduct to the required standard.OutcomeIdeally, the manager should aim to reach an agreement with the employee on the followingpoints. However, where it is not possible to reach a consensus, the manager should makeclear: The standards expected; Where the employee is currently falling short of these standards (i.e., the gapbetween current conduct and the standards required); The action required to close that gap – what the employee is going to do, what youare going to do, the timescale for improvement (e.g., what support, training or otheradvice and guidance will be provided, who is responsible for organizing andproviding it and what are the timescales for these interventions); Follow up and review;DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20167

Summarize what you have agreed to avoid a misunderstanding; and Make a record if necessary – this will be helpful if the employee’s conduct does notimprove to the standard required.Next stepsAfter speaking to the employee, the manager should: Continue to monitor the employee’s conduct over the agreed upon timescale andprovide regular reviews and give feedback; Make sure he or she delivers on the agreed-upon action (e.g., training, additionalsupport); If the employee’s conduct does improve to the standard required, then make a pointof telling the employee and encourage the employee to continue to improve his orher conduct; If the employee’s conduct does not improve to the standard required – i.e., if there isno improvement, or what improvement there has been still falls short of thestandard required – then it will be necessary to speak to the employee again; and Take advice from DCHR’s employee relations team as to whether it is necessary tomove forward to the formal disciplinary procedure.Verbal CounselingAs noted previously, management should initially attempt to correct minor lapses in conductand performance through informal means. However, when such corrective steps are notsuccessful, or for more serious conduct concerns, the first step in the formal disciplinaryprocess is verbal counseling.Performance Issues. Performance concerns are addressed through Chapter 14 of the DistrictPersonnel Manual. This instruction focuses primarily on misconduct issues.PreparationWhen counseling the employee is deemed appropriate to the circumstances, the managershould first: Gather and assess the relevant facts; Schedule an uninterrupted period of time with the employee and his or her unionrepresentative (if any); andDPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20168

Review and be aware of the relevant facts, conduct standards, and plan forimproving the employee’s behavior.Counseling SessionAt the counseling session, the manager must:1.Articulate the relevant conduct standard(s);2.Explain how the employee has failed to meet those standards;3.Explain management’s conduct expectations; and4.Explain the potential consequences if those expectations are not met prospectively.Follow-upWithin 5 days after the counseling session, the manager must memorialize the conversationin writing. This may be done through a letter or e-mail. The correspondence shall establishthe date, time, and content of all verbal counseling. Managers shall retain a copy of thecorrespondence for a period of no less than two years, but it shall not be made a part ofemployee’s Official Personnel Folder (OPF). (See Attachment 1, Sample Verbal CounselingFollow-up.)VERBAL COUNSELING AT A GLANCE Fully investigate the facts of the situation Schedule an uninterrupted time with the employee and his/herrepresentative Discuss what happened, the standards, expectations, andpotential consequences Within 5 days follow-up and restate the verbal counseling inwriting Maintain a copy of the written correspondence for two years (notin OPF)Formal ActionsFormal disciplinary actions include corrective and adverse actions. A corrective action is areprimand, reassignment, or suspension of less than 10 workdays. An adverse action is areduction in grade, suspension of 10 or more workdays, or removal.DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 20169

Proposing OfficialFormal actions are initiated by a “proposing official.” A proposing official can be anymanagement official superior to the employee. A proposing official can also be anymanagement official designated by DCHR (if an agency needs a proposing official to bedesignated by DCHR, the agency should contact DCHR’s employee relations team).Deciding OfficialFormal actions are completed by a “deciding official,” who reviews the proposed action, aresponse from the employee and any recommendations from an administrative reviewofficer, and then issues a final decision. The deciding official is the agency head or amanagement official designated by the agency head, who did not already serve as theproposing official.Proposing and Deciding Officials in small agencies. In most cases, the proposing and decidingofficial cannot be the same person. However, in some agencies, with small staffs, the overlapmay be unavoidable and is technically permitted. However, in those cases, it is advisable toinclude another entity in the final decision (such as a Deputy Mayor, the City Administrator or theDirector of DCHR.)ReprimandsA reprimand is a corrective action in the form of a written document issued by anemployee’s supervisor that identifies a specific conduct fault by an employee. A reprimandshould be considered when counseling has failed, or when verbal counseling is an inadequatedisciplinary response to address the conduct.The Written ReprimandThe proposing official should gather all the supporting evidence and draft the reprimandagainst the employee. The reprimand should include:1.A short narrative concerning the factual circumstances warranting the reprimand;2.A description of the conduct standards at issue and how these standards were notmet;3.A brief narrative on how the employee should conduct himself or herselfprospectively to alleviate the conduct fault;4.The potential consequences if the conduct requirements are not met;5.A notice informing the employee that he or she may submit a written response to thereprimand; and6.Notification to the employee of his or her right to grieve the final decision pursuantto Chapter 16 of the regulations.As a best practice, the reprimand should be reviewed by agency counsel and approved by theagency head (or his or her designee). A sample reprimand appears at Attachment 2.DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 201610

ServiceThe reprimand must be served on the employee. This is best achieved in person as follows:1.Schedule a meeting time during an uninterrupted period of time with the employeeand his or her representative (if any).2.At the meeting, discuss the conduct standards expected, how they were not met,what is expected in the future, and the potential consequences for failing to meetexpectations.3.Explain the need to issue a formal reprimand, what a reprimand is, and theemployee’s right to submit a response, and, if he or she chooses, a right to file agrievance.4.Serve the reprimand on the employee.Employee ResponseThe employee who is served the reprimand has a right to submit a written response within10 days of service. The response must be delivered to the supervisor issuing the reprimand.Based on the written response, the supervisor may sustain, modify, or rescind the reprimand.(Note: if the supervisor takes no action, the reprimand is automatically sustained.) In theevent the supervisor modifies the reprimand, the revised reprimand must be served on theemployee and he or she will have a new 10 days to submit a revised response.Record KeepingA reprimand becomes final upon the filing of the employee’s response or the expiration ofthe time for the employee to file a response. A copy of the final reprimand must be filed inthe Official Personnel Folder (OPF) and may be considered in future disciplinary matters forup to 3 years.REPRIMANDS AT A GLANCE Fully investigate the facts of the situation Draft the written reprimand Schedule an uninterrupted time with the employee and his/herrepresentative Discuss what happened, the standards, expectations, and potentialconsequences Explain the reprimand process to the employee and serve thereprimand The employee has 10 days to file a written response; consider anyresponse and, if appropriate, modify or rescind the reprimand File a sustained reprimand and any response in the OPF for up to three 3yearsDPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 201611

Suspensions (Less than 10 Days)Corrective action also includes suspensions of less than 10 workdays. Suspensions areappropriate when counseling and reprimands have failed to correct breaches of conductstandards, and as otherwise indicated by application of the factors set forth at § 1606.2 of theregulations.When a suspension of less than 10 days is to be imposed, the process includes:1.Notice of the proposed corrective action being served on the employee;2.Affording the employee an opportunity to respond to the proposed action;3.Final notice of the corrective action being imposed; and4.Notifying the employee of his or her opportunity to grieve the final action.Notice of Proposed ActionThe proposing official should gather all the supporting evidence and draft the proposedsuspension against the employee. (See Attachment 3, Sample Notice of Proposed Suspension.) Thenotice should be a relatively short document (2-3 pages in length) that includes:1.A concise statement of the action being taken (a suspension of less than 10 workdays), the general reason for the action, and the proposed effective date of thesuspension;2.Enumerated independent cause(s) for which the suspensions are being proposed;3.For each independent cause, a specific proposed action (supported by a factorsanalysis worksheet, See Attachment 5.)4.An explanation of the employee’s rights, including the right to review supportingmaterials, submit a written response, be represented, and the name and contactinformation of the deciding official.Notice of Proposed Action. As a best practice, a notice of proposed action should be reviewedby agency counsel.ServiceThe proposed action must be served on the employee. This is best achieved in person asfollows:1.Schedule a meeting time during an uninterrupted period of time with the employeeand his or her representative (if any).2.At the meeting, discuss the conduct standards expected, how they were not met,what is expected in the future, and the potential consequences for failing to meetexpectations.DPM Instruction No. 16-18 Discipline June 22, 201612

3.Explain the need to take corrective action, the suspension being proposed, and theemployee’s rights.4.Serve the proposed action on the employee.Employee ResponseThe employee who is served a proposed corrective action has a right to submit a writtenresponse within 5 days of service. The response must be delivered to the proposing official.Final DecisionWithin 45 days of the employee’s written response (or the expiration of the employee’s timeto respond), the deciding official must serve a final decision on the proposed suspension.Service of the final decision must be done in person or by courier to the employee’s addressof record (with delivery confirmation.)The final decision must be based on the proposed action and the employee’s writtenresponse (if any.) (See Attachment 6, Sample Final Decision – Suspension [of less than 10 workdays].)The final decision must:1.Provide a concise summary of the action(s) being taken and the effective date of theaction(s);2.Succinctly enumerate each independent cause for which the corrective action is beingtaken; specifications shall not be used in any final written decision;3.Provide for an independent suspension (or other corrective action) for eachenumerated cause;4.Demonstrate reasoned consideration of the relevant factors set forth in 6B DCMR §1606.2 for each independent action; and5.Articulate the employee’s grievance rights.Final Decisions. Final decisions should be fairly similar to the proposed action and may rely uponthe factor analysis worksheets used at the proposing phase.Record KeepingA suspension of less than 10 workdays becomes final upon service of the final decision onthe employee. The service date o

achieve organizational effectiveness by using a progressive system to address performance and conduct issues. Managers must reliably establish and communicate reasonable performance and conduct standards that serve the public trust. Each employee has a responsibility to perform his or