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Supervisor Resources

Employee Relations

American University follows a progressive disciplinary policy. Understanding and accepting this policy is implied in accepting employment.

Supervisors are required to take disciplinary action when established procedures are not followed, or when rules of conduct are ignored to the disadvantage of a working unit or the University. These guidelines have been set up to prevent misunderstandings when such occasions arise. It is the University's intention to be fair and uniform in the handling of these matters. However, these procedures should not be interpreted as constituting an employment contract.

Disciplinary action can take one of four forms: oral warning, written warning, suspension, or dismissal. The degree of disciplinary action is based on the nature of the offense. For more information on the disciplinary policy as well as examples of infractions that may result in discipline up to and including termination, please visit the Staff Personnel Policies Manual.

American University is committed to providing all staff with the opportunity to improve their performance in order to continue successful employment at the University. In the event a staff member fails to consistently demonstrate the core competencies established for all staff, or fails to meet performance expectations, or demonstrate the skills and functions required by their position, a manager may elect to place that individual on a performance improvement plan (PIP).

The PIP is a short term plan that determines clear milestones for improvement of work performance within a specified period of time –usually four to eight weeks. PIPs may be implemented independently or, if necessary, in conjunction with disciplinary action. Communication of a PIP may replace any warning step under the disciplinary policy. Failure to meet the milestones established by the PIP and maintain acceptable performance will result in termination of employment.

Managers with questions regarding PIPs or seeking guidance in the design and implementation of such a plan should contact Employee Relations at extension 2607.

Clear and open channels for the expression of employee complaints are basic principles of sound employee relations. Because employees do on occasion differ with supervisors on important questions, American University has provided subordinates with a mechanism for appealing the action or decision of a superior to a higher level within the organization without fear of retaliation.

Each staff member is responsible for using this procedure in a timely manner whenever there are unanswered questions or problems which adversely affect any aspect of the employment relationship (except for complaints involving discrimination or harassment which are covered by the Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy). For more information on the complaint procedure, please visit the Staff Personnel Policies Manual. Employee Relations is also available for consultation and advice about how to resolve problems or file a complaint.

Hiring Freeze Guidance

What actions are covered under the Hiring Freeze?

Updated May 29, 2020

For staff, HR will not post vacancies, process hire, promotion or reclassification actions or approve stipend payments except in extremely limited cases with the approval by the cabinet member responsible for the unit in consultation with HR.

Faculty hiring and stipends are subject to the freeze.

How do I request an exception to the Hiring Freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

To submit an exception to the staff hiring freeze, the HR Representative for your unit must complete the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form. It will automatically be routed to your department head, cabinet member and HR. Please allow two weeks for a decision.

Are title changes, promotions and reclassifications affected by the hiring freeze even if the change does not include an adjustment to compensation?

Added May 8, 2020

Yes. Promotions, reclassifications and title changes, with or without compensation changes, are part of the hiring freeze. During freezes like the one AU has initiated, there is often a desire to provide title changes and/or promotions to staff that, after the freeze, can drive salary and other equity issues. This can also lead to a lack of standards across the university and perceptions of unfairness among others when they learn their colleagues received title or promotions when those changes are otherwise subject to the freeze. Units seeking to promote staff or reclassify positions, with or without pay implications, should complete the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form and document the reason for the request.

Do internal job postings require approval during the hiring freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

All new job postings are subject to the hiring freeze, including internal postings. Temporary opportunities that can be filled by a Continuity Partner do not need approval.

Do I need Cabinet approval to hire a staff member whose position is externally funded?

Added May 8, 2020

Only positions that are fully externally funded will be allowed to move forward; partially funded positions will not. If your position is fully-funded externally, work with your departmental HR Representative to complete a Hiring Freeze Exception Request form and indicate the source of funding on the request.

Are Ready Hire staff impacted by the hiring freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

Yes. Ready Hires are included in the hiring freeze. If you have a Ready Hire already in place and would like to extend their assignment, a Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form must be submitted, which will automatically be routed to the cabinet member responsible for your unit for review and approval.

Will an email from the cabinet member be sufficient approval for HR to process the hiring freeze exception?

Added May 8, 2020

No. All exception requests must be submitted via the Hiring Freeze Exception Request form on the myAU portal.

Are there cases when cabinet-level approval is not required?

Added May 8, 2020

No. Cabinet-level approval is required for all exceptions. HR has launched the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form on the myAU portal to support easier administration of the exception request process. When your HR Representative completes a Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form, it will automatically be routed to your department head, cabinet member and HR. Please allow two weeks for a decision. Decisions will be communicated through the site. A similar tool for faculty actions subjected to the

Can a frozen position be reconsidered and posted later?

Added May 8, 2020

If conditions in your unit change that necessitate the need to revisit a frozen position or action, please use the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form  and indicate the reason for the reconsideration.

When positions are allowed to be filled with staff eligible for remote work, will units receive all IT tools necessary (laptop and system accesses) to work from home?

Added May 8, 2020

To qualify for an exception to the hiring freeze, sufficient resources must be available to onboard a new employee. Departments will be responsible for ensuring that a computer and system access are arranged. Similarly, if a department takes on a Continuity Partner it will be necessary to determine if the Partner has the tools necessary, and if not, if they can be obtained.

Can a department reassign people within their own department to cover duties of a vacancy? Do departments have to go through the hiring freeze exception process to do that?

Added May 8, 2020

Departments are encouraged to utilize their internal talent who have capacity to fill gaps and ensure staff are fully deployed. Temporarily tasking internal staff to cover duties does not have to go through the hiring freeze exception process.

How will e-actions be processed during the freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

E-actions should be submitted after you receive an approval through the Hiring Freeze Exception Request approval process. To assist with e-action processing, please reference the date of the approval in the comments section of the e-action.

What is the approval process for new stipend requests for staff taking on additional duties?

Added May 8, 2020

Stipends for additional duties will mostly not be approved during the hiring freeze. During the hiring freeze, it will be important for departments to seek approval for a stipend prior to assigning work to the staff member and to avoid questions later in the process when payment is sought. We understand this is a change from existing practices and appreciate your support to think ahead and plan for the situations in advance.