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Index > Operations Policies > Corrective Action Policy

Corrective Action Policy


Rhode Island School of Design employs a corrective action process that provides a method for addressing problems related to job performance and employee conduct in a manner that is fair, effective, and appropriate in light of the nature, seriousness, and frequency of the performance or conduct concern. The primary objective of the Corrective Action Process is to support employees in the achievement of job success.


All employees are expected to meet RISD’s standards of work performance. Work performance encompasses many factors, including attendance, punctuality, personal conduct, job proficiency, and general compliance with RISD’s policies and procedures. When individual performance or conduct falls short of these standards, RISD will make reasonable efforts to provide employees with adequate notice regarding areas for improvement and assistance in achieving improvement. However, RISD reserves the right to take immediate appropriate action, without the provision of notice or assistance, when in its judgment an employee’s conduct, policy violation, or performance problem is of an extreme nature or there are other overriding concerns.

The employee’s supervisor should determine the need, and has the initial responsibility, for taking corrective action. Ongoing communication and feedback should occur between the supervisor and the employee throughout the year and include clear performance expectations. When performance does not meet expectations, supervisors should informally alert employees and clearly communicate areas of needed improvement.


A general guideline for the corrective action process follows. This process may be tailored based on the facts and circumstances of each case. The supervisor should contact Human Resources to discuss potential corrective action prior to implementing the process and should consult with Human Resources throughout the process.

In general, the Corrective Action Process consists of one or more of the following steps: discussion of performance expectations, verbal warning, one or more written warnings, suspension, final written warning, and/or termination.

These steps, which are outlined in greater detail below, may be used alone or in combination, as appropriate to the circumstances. If the situation allows, they will generally be followed in a progressive sequence until the performance or conduct problems are resolved. However, some of the steps may not be appropriate or necessary to all problems. The nature of some problems may warrant an acceleration or bypassing of one or more of the steps that might otherwise be appropriate. In addition, some problems may justify immediate termination of employment. (See Actionable Behavior below for illustrative examples.)

This process does not apply to employees in the orientation and review period.

Verbal Warning

A Verbal Warning may be issued when failure to meet behavior and/or performance expectations is observed and generally is given in a face-to-face meeting between the supervisor and the employee. The supervisor should review the problem with the employee using specific examples that indicate where and how the employee’s performance/conduct does not meet standards.

The supervisor should describe the relevant standards, establish expectations for improving performance and/or conduct, advise the employee of the consequences of failure to meet such expectations, and discuss any appropriate and available assistance. The supervisor should document the date of the session and the problem discussed in his/her own records. The employee should be informed that he/she is receiving a verbal warning and that failure to improve performance will lead to further action up to and including termination.

Written Warning

A Written Warning should contain a reference to any previous Verbal Warning or discipline along with a description of the performance and/or behavior problem. The Written Warning should describe what must be done to improve performance and indicate that failure to improve and sustain performance may lead to further action, up to and including termination of employment. The supervisor should consult with Human Resources prior to issuing a Written Warning.

The Written Warning should be signed by both the supervisor and the employee. The employee’s signature is an acknowledgment that a Written Warning has been issued, not necessarily of agreement. One copy of the Written Warning is given to the employee, and one copy sent to Human Resources for the employee’s file.


If deemed appropriate by the supervisor, a non-exempt employee may also be suspended without pay as a disciplinary sanction or suspended with or without pay pending investigation. Depending upon the results of any such investigation, the suspended employee may be reinstated without prejudice, or may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Prior to taking action to suspend an employee, the supervisor must consult Human Resources.

Final Written Warning

A Final Written Warning may be issued when performance issues continue or the performance/conduct is of a serious nature. Termination will result if further violations or performance problems occur. A Final Written Warning should follow the same format described above for Written Warnings, but with the additional designation that it is final. The manager/supervisor must consult with Human Resources prior to issuing a Final Written Warning. The employee should sign the Final Written Warning to acknowledge receipt.

Termination of Employment

Termination of employment may occur when an employee fails to correct performance or conduct problems following a warning or when the performance/conduct problem is of an extreme nature. The supervisor must consult with Human Resources prior to termination of an employee.

Actionable Behavior

Some actions by employees may warrant immediate serious disciplinary action or termination. The final decision of what conduct or actions will result in such disciplinary action or termination will be determined at RISD’s discretion based on the facts of each case. Actions that the College considers serious in nature that may result in immediate serious disciplinary action or termination of employment include, but are NOT limited to:

  • assaulting, threatening, intimidating, harassing, or coercing coworkers, students, or others
  • harassment, sexual or otherwise, of staff, faculty, students, or visitors
  • transporting or possessing weapons, firearms, or explosives on College property
  • fighting, provoking or instigating a fight, or engaging in dangerous “horseplay” that could result in injury to others or damage to property
  • insubordination, willful refusal to perform assigned duties or to accept an assignment from an authorized supervisor, or any type of verbal or physical abuse of a supervisor
  • possessing, using, distributing, or manufacturing alcohol or illegal drugs during work hours
  • reporting to work or working under the influence of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs
  • stealing, destroying, or defacing College, co-workers’, or students’ property, or using such property without authorization
  • sleeping on the job
  • unauthorized absence from post or duty
  • supplying false or misleading information on the employment application, personal data forms, or benefit forms, or altering or falsifying any College record, such as attendance or financial records
  • unauthorized possession, use, copying, or reading of RISD records, or disclosure of information contained in such records to unauthorized persons
  • use of vile, indecent, or abusive language

As noted elsewhere in this handbook, employment at RISD is at will and at the mutual consent of the employer and the employee. RISD affirms the right of either the employer or the employee to terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reasons that either deems appropriate. The corrective action process set forth in this policy has been adopted voluntarily by RISD solely to give guidance to management and is not intended to give rise to contractual obligations or otherwise to restrict the at-will nature of the employment relationship.

Revision history

This policy was last reviewed/modified on: 11/20/2019

Next scheduled review: 12/1/2020


Issuing Office

Office of Human Resources

Responsible Officer

Vice President for Human Resources

Individuals/offices required for review and changes

Director of Employment