The city has established a Uniform Disciplinary Code (“code”) to provide consistent rules governing performance and work behavior expected from employees at all levels, including administrators, managers, and supervisors. It does not apply to probationary or other temporary employees serving at the pleasure of the mayor or council (i.e. supervisors with employees not covered by the code may consult the guidelines to discipline such employees, but they are not required to do so).
The following code numbers and their corresponding offenses shall be used when completing the disciplinary action form. The definitions and comments for each offense clarify the types of behaviors the city considers insubordinate, inefficient, violations of moral turpitude, and general misconduct.
1a. Operating a government asset or any asset for which the city could be held liable while on duty and under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Operating a government asset or any asset for which the city could be held liable while on duty, under the influence of alcohol, after ingesting illegal drugs, or while using prescription or non-prescription drugs that impair the efficient operation of the asset.
Operating vehicles or equipment while at work and under the influence of drugs or alcohol violates CAO Policy 7: Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace Policy. Supervisors should follow the procedures and impose the penalties adopted in CAO Policy 7.
1b. Failure to report a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
This offense occurs when employees, who may be required at any time to drive a vehicle, lose their driving privileges for any reason and fail to notify their supervisors within 24 hours.
1c. Driving a city vehicle (or driving any vehicle while on-duty) with a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
This offense occurs when employees operate a city vehicle or any vehicle while on duty while their driver’s license is suspended or revoked. Driving under these circumstances is illegal and exposes the urban county government and the employee to additional liability if the employee is involved in an accident.
This rule should be explained to any employee who may be called upon to drive a vehicle while on duty.
2. Stealing or theft.
Employees shall use urban county government assets only for their intended purpose in accordance with established government or divisional procedures and shall not take any urban county government assets to sell or for any other use. Evidence of theft will be turned over to the Lexington Police Department for investigation, and prosecution will be pursued.
Supervisors should notify the Lexington Police Department immediately in case of theft or suspected theft.
3. Intentional or deliberate destruction or unauthorized use of urban county government assets.
Employees shall utilize urban county government assets only for their intended purpose in accordance with established government or divisional procedures and shall not intentionally abuse, damage or lose through negligence any urban county government asset.
4. Use of, possession of, or positive test for illegal drugs while on-the-job; reporting to work after ingesting illegal drugs; or, conviction for, possession of, or trafficking in illegal drugs.
Employees who use, possess or test positive for illegal drugs while on the job, report to work after ingesting illegal drugs or are convicted for possessing or trafficking drugs violate CAO Policy 7: Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace Policy. Supervisors should follow the procedures and impose the penalties adopted in CAO Policy 7.
5. Use of, possession of, or positive test for alcohol while on the job.
Employees who use, possess or test positive for alcohol while on the job violate CAO Policy 7: Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace Policy. Supervisors should follow the procedures and impose the penalties adopted in CAO Policy 7.
6a. Violent behavior, throwing objects toward or at others, verbal threats, or fighting on the job (with weapon).
A “weapon” is an instrument or anything that can be used to injure or harm a person, whether or not the instrument or thing was designed for that purpose. This offense includes, but is not limited to, (a) fighting with a weapon, (b) on-duty possession of a weapon not expressly authorized under State law, (c) on-duty possession of an object that could be used as a weapon that has no relationship to the employee’s duties and is unnecessary on the work site or for the effective and efficient performance of the job (e.g., a baseball bat, brass knuckles, Taser unit, etc.), (d) using objects or equipment that are necessary for the performance of the job as a weapon (e.g., using a crowbar or tire iron as a weapon), (e) making verbal threats while in possession of a weapon; or, (f) throwing objects at or in the direction of others.
The supervisor shall take immediate action in the event of a fight without endangering themselves or others. In serious cases, call the Lexington Police Department to help the supervisor.
6b. Violent behavior or fighting on-the-job (without weapons).
This offense includes but is not limited to any of the following, with or without verbal threats, which could or does result in harm to another employee or which disrupts the effectiveness and efficiency of the workplace: (a) Fist fights or similar physical conduct, (b) Horse play that causes or has the potential of causing injury, or (c) Any intentional pushing, shoving, hitting, or bumping.
In addition to disciplinary action, the employees involved will submit to an evaluation by Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselors. After the EAP evaluation, the counselor will provide the director of human resources with a statement certifying the employee has been evaluated and is fit to return to work (if applicable). The employee will attend such additional EAP sessions as are recommended by the counselor. All parties involved in violent behavior may be subject to the same discipline, depending on the circumstances.
6c. Verbal threats or harassing statements.
This offense includes but is not limited to (a) statements, including written or email statements, which seriously alarm, annoy, intimidate or harass a person or which could cause a reasonable person to suffer distress, or (b) oral threats to commit any act, likely to result in damage to property.
“Joking” references to shooting others (e.g., “going postal” or “blowing people away”) will be taken very seriously, and disciplinary action will result. The supervisor will take immediate action when situations of this type develop. In addition to disciplinary action, the employee will be evaluated by EAP counselors. After the session(s), the EAP counselor will provide the director of human resources with a statement certifying the employee has been counseled and understands appropriate workplace behavior (if applicable).
7. Leaving assigned work station without authorization.
This offense occurs when employees leave the workstation without permission. It includes leaving the workstation to conduct personal business but does not include absence due to a valid emergency if employees ensure that their duties will be covered and they notify a supervisor.
Emergencies may arise, such as an accident or sudden illness in the employee’s immediate family. If the employee’s immediate supervisor is not available, the employee shall notify the next ranking superior. In all emergency cases, leave should be granted unless there is evidence of prior abuse. Where a follow-up leave slip is required by the supervisor, the employee should be notified in writing within three days of the absence.
This offense involves behavior or statements that reflect an employee’s refusal to be supervised including but not limited to direct refusal to obey a supervisor’s work-related order or failure to follow directions and instructions. This rule also includes (a) failure to follow instructions that have been adequately explained, (b) repeated occurrences of poor decision making, which lead to the redoing of work, (c) consistent failure to meet assignment deadlines, or (d) a pattern of incorrect work that results in disruption of the operation of the unit or impairment of its effectiveness and efficiency.
Supervisors should be sensitive to the difference between a “bad attitude” insubordination, and inefficient work. Inefficiency, when not corrected after being brought to the employee’s attention, may become insubordination.
8b. Malicious behavior or deliberate behavior, which affects the efficient and effective performance of the job.
This offense includes any malicious behavior regardless of its effect on the efficiency or effectiveness of the workplace or any deliberate behavior that disrupts the workplace. It can include but is not limited to malicious practical jokes; knowingly spreading false rumors; sabotaging projects or other employees’ work; or, constant teasing of another employee.
Supervisors should establish and maintain a professional level of behavior for each work unit.
8c. Misconduct (other).
This offense is general in nature and applies when the actions of an employee do not fit within any other specific category. It may be used alone or in conjunction with other infractions. It should be used when an established government, department, or division policy or procedure does not contain a specific penalty.
Supervisors should educate employees to realize that they may be disciplined for their actions even if every possible improper act or infraction is not separately listed in the uniform disciplinary code.
This offense involves the failure, neglect, or inability of employees to perform their assigned duties or the performance of their assigned duties is performed in an inappropriate, inadequate, or unsuitable manner. This would include (a) spending their time in excessive personal conversations either on the phone or with others, (b) taking excessive breaks, (c) pushing work assignments off on others, or (d) engaging in any other activity that could cause them to neglect or be inattentive to their duties. As with insubordination, this rule also includes (a) failure to follow instructions that have been adequately explained, (b) repeated occurrences of poor decision making, which lead to the redoing of work, (c) consistent failure to produce error-free work (d) the use of poor judgment, (e) lack of timeliness and failure to meet assignment deadlines, or (f) a pattern of incorrect work that results in disruption of the operation of the unit, or impairment of its effectiveness and efficiency.
Although insubordination and inefficiency are similar in some respects, they have an important distinction. An insubordinate employee is one who intentionally refuses to obey or comply with an order of a superior. Inefficient employees are unable (rather than unwilling) to obey or comply with the orders of a supervisor or to perform their assigned duties otherwise.
9. Sleeping on the job.
An employee shall remain alert at all times, especially while operating equipment. Sleeping during duty hours (except for sworn Fire & Emergency Services personnel assigned to a fire station) is strictly forbidden.
10a. - b. Preventable vehicle or equipment incident in which the employee’s action or lack of action is considered the primary contributing factor or a significant contributing factor in an equipment or vehicle incident with damages assessed.
Employees are required to operate city equipment and vehicles (“vehicles”), and any vehicle while on duty (“vehicles”) in a safe, prudent and responsible manner consistent with all local and state laws and all relevant government, department or division policies. Any employee involved in a vehicle incident in which the Incident Review Committee finds that the employees’ actions or lack of actions are considered the primary contributing factor or a significant contributing factor in an equipment or vehicle incident will be subject to corrective administrative action under uniform disciplinary code 10(A. - B.).
Where the property damage exceeds the amounts established in the Alcohol- and Drug-Free Workplace Policy, in the opinion of a responsible supervisor, the employee shall be subject to a post-critical-incident drug test.
The employee shall ensure the safe operation of all vehicles and equipment to which they are assigned. Employees not familiar with proper vehicle or equipment operating procedures shall inform their supervisor and ask for training and supervision. The supervisor should provide training when the employee is first assigned to a vehicle or equipment and again as needed. If the vehicle or equipment is not operating properly, employees should inform their supervisor so that proper measures can be taken to avoid an accident (e.g. take vehicle to fleet services, assuming it is safe to drive, for inspection and clearance to continue operating).
11a. Absent without approved leave.
The offense occurs when an employee (a) fails to report for duty, (b) fails to call in as required by government, department or division policy, or (c) does not have sufficient leave to cover an absence; and is not on an approved leave of absence without pay (e.g., FMLA leave, personal leave, etc.). The difference between being absent without approved leave (“AWOL”) and being tardy is discussed in item 14.
Once all approved leave is exhausted, the employee shall be marked AWOL.
Each situation should be handled on an individual basis, and division directors are responsible for establishing call-in and emergency leave procedures for their divisions. After review and approval by human resources, a copy of the division call-in and emergency leave procedures should be given to each employee.
An employee reported AWOL for four or more hours in one month shall not accrue vacation and sick time for the entire calendar month. Each AWOL on each “workday” is a separate occurrence. However, AWOL for two (2) or more consecutive days violates code 11B. A supervisor should investigate each situation before marking an employee AWOL.
Non-exempt employees do not receive pay for time they are AWOL and may be subject to disciplinary action. Exempt employees may also be subject to disciplinary action under this policy.
11b. Absent without approved leave for two or more consecutive days.
This offense covers those situations where an employee fails to report to work for two or more consecutive days.
Employees who are AWOL two or more consecutive days are subject to more severe discipline.
12. Excessive use of sick leave.
This offense occurs when an employee fails to provide a medical doctor’s excuse for excessive use of sick leave. Excessive use of sick leave includes (a) consistent use of sick leave on the first or last day of the employee’s work week, (b) consistent use of more sick leave than is earned in a pay period or use of sick leave on a sporadic basis, especially on the first and last day of the employee’s work week, (c) depleting sick time balances, or (d) requesting leave without pay for sickness when no chronic ailment has been diagnosed.
One warning sign of potential sick leave abuse is consistently low balances maintained by long-term employees. Sick leave is not a vested right like vacation and holiday leave, and its use is limited to its intended purpose. If a pattern of abuse is detected, a supervisor may require the employee to present a medical doctor’s excuse for all sick leave requests (section 21-34 of the code of ordinances). There are legitimate situations, however, where an employee may use all sick leave because of a serious health condition. If it is determined that a low sick leave balance is justified and the employee is performing in a satisfactory manner, the supervisor should examine the situation carefully before taking any disciplinary action. Additionally, a supervisor may request that an urban county government-selected physician examine employees if questions exist regarding the employees’ ability to perform their job duties. The director of human resources should be contacted to arrange a medical examination.
13a. Failure to observe safety procedures; failure to wear protective clothing – (Class A – Serious – life threatening).
These violations include but are not limited to (a) failure to wear seat belts while traveling in an urban county government vehicle or in any vehicle while on duty, or (b) failure to wear mandatory protective equipment while operating dangerous equipment (e.g., welding, jackhammers, bucket trucks, etc.).
13b. Failure to observe safety procedures; failure to wear protective clothing – (Class B – Less serious – not life threatening).
These violations include but are not limited to (a) removal or destruction of safety devices, (b) failure to keep equipment and work areas clean, (c) failure to report unsafe working conditions, or (d) failure to wear safety clothing (e.g., hard hats, safety glasses, steel–toe shoes, etc.).
Each division should have safety rules or procedures identifying Class A (serious) and Class B (less serious) rules. Safety rules should be approved by the safety coordinator in the human resources risk management section and explained to employees. Employees should receive a copy of the division’s safety rules. The division should require employees to sign a form stating that they have received a copy of the safety rules issued by risk management and a list of the division’s safety rules. The division may periodically update its rules and have employees acknowledge in writing that they understand the updated safety rules and regulations.
14. Excessive tardiness.
This offense includes a pattern of tardiness that interferes with the unit's operation. Generally, a first offense occurs when an employee is late twice or more in any pay period. However, in some divisions, less frequent tardiness may justify disciplinary action (for example, divisions running 24-hour coverage or those where work crews leave a central location). A tardy employee whose actions result in overtime payments to other employees may receive more severe discipline, depending on the circumstances.
Generally, employees are considered tardy if they are over six minutes late. Employees who call in, and are excused for legitimate emergencies, should not be considered tardy. Each division should establish a call-in and tardiness policy, and copies of the policy should be given to each employee. The policy should be submitted to human resources for review and approval before issuance.
Discipline should not be imposed until the existence of a tardiness problem is identified. In most cases, a single tardy arrival should not result in discipline. Each division is responsible for establishing a time frame for being tardy rather than absent without leave (AWOL); however, if an employee is absent for more than 30 minutes, they are AWOL rather than tardy.
15. Failure to submit required or completed reports or forms.
Forms and reports that are part of an employee’s job duties shall be submitted in accordance with established government, department, or division procedures.
16. Gambling on the job.
The offense of gambling is defined as staking or risking something of value upon the outcome of a contest, game, gaming scheme, or gaming device that is based upon an element of chance in accord with an agreement or understanding that someone will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome. A contest or game in which eligibility to participate is (a) determined by chance or (b) the ultimate winner is determined by skill shall not be considered gambling. Gambling is a prohibited non-work-related activity. Personnel in community corrections shall be subject to dismissal for a first offense of gambling.
Questions that are not answered in the guidelines or by supervisors should be directed to the human resources employee relations section at (859) 258-3030.
Remedial administrative actions and procedures