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IV.G. Changes in Employment Status

IV.G.1. General Changes

IV.G.1.1. Policy

An employee’s employment status with the College may change. This policy addresses some foreseen changes that may affect an employee during the course of employment. Additionally, the College may take reasonable steps to address an employee’s employment not specifically addressed in this policy, if those steps are in the College’s best interest.

IV.G.1.2. Definitions

(a) Reduction in Force (“RIF”) means eliminating positions because of (1) state or federal legislative or executive action reducing a College’s budget; (2) a significant loss in enrollment or inability to charge tuition, resulting from a loss of student financial aid; (3) College facilities are destroyed by catastrophic weather, acts of terrorism, or other unexpected and catastrophic events; or (4) destruction of property resulting in a sudden and unexpected decrease in tax revenue.

IV.G.1.3. Employee Resignations

Contractual employees may resign their employment by submitting a resignation letter to the Chancellor. Non-contract employees are employed at-will and may resign at any time with or without notice.

IV.G.1.4. Administrative Leave

The Chancellor may place any employee on paid or unpaid administrative leave at any time during the employee’s employment. An employee on administrative leave remains a College employee and is subject to all College and Board policies and procedures. The Chancellor’s decision placing an employee on administrative leave is final—it is not subject to an administrative review process and is not grievable.

IV.G.1.5. Reduction in Force

The College may need to reduce its work force via a RIF. Only the Board can approve a RIF. If a RIF is necessary, the Chancellor prepares and submits to the Board a RIF proposal, which includes the reason for the recommendation, the number of affected employees, how employees were chosen, and proposed time lines. The Board conducts a hearing on the proposed RIF based on the Chancellor’s recommendation. At least one representative of the affected employee group may address the Board regarding the RIF. Certain employee groups have additional considerations addressed below:

(a) Faculty Members

Before recommending a RIF for full-time faculty, the Chancellor must consider alternatives. Alternatives may include (1) reducing teaching contracts; (2) reassigning some faculty members to other teaching fields, if qualified, and if open positions exist; (3) reducing teaching loads, and assigning faculty members administrative responsibilities, if available, provided that such assignment does not exceed two years; (4) transferring some faculty members to other locations if a comparable position is available; (5) reducing adjunct faculty; and (6) reducing class sizes, if the average for affected department is above the College average. The Chancellor must also give the Faculty Senate an opportunity to comment on the proposed RIF.

(b) Contract Employees

When a RIF affects contractual employees, the Chancellor should attempt to give reasonable notice, if possible. Reasonable notice for multi-year contractual employees means 12-months’ notice. Reasonable notice for all other contractual employees means three-months’ notice. The College may not fill contractual RIF-eliminated positions within 18 months from the date of the RIF separation without first notifying the person who held the eliminated position. This person must be given an opportunity to be reinstated into the now-available position. This person’s contract status and leave accruals must be restored to the same levels as of the date of the RIF separation. The College may however decline to reinstate if the person was given notice of the position availability and the person declined or did not respond within the required time.

(c) Non-Contract Employees

When a RIF affects non-contractual employees, the Chancellor should attempt to give notice as soon as reasonably possible. Non-contractual employees may be eligible for reassignment in lieu of RIF separation if other positions are available for which the employee is qualified to perform the essential job functions. Non-contractual employees rehired within 18 months of losing a full-time position through a RIF are re-hired with reinstatement of benefits, if allowed by the Employee Retirement System of Texas and or the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Nothing in this policy creates a contract or property interest for non-contractual employees, and this policy does not alter in any way the employment-at-will status of non-contractual employees.

IV.G.1.6. Reduction in Force Appeal

Contractual employees may appeal a RIF separation to the Board. The contractual employee must appeal within 10 calendar days of the date the employee received notice of the RIF separation. The Board’s appeal review is limited to considering whether the decision to end the employee’s employment constituted prohibited discrimination, retaliation, or was arbitrary and capricious conduct. Appeal hearings are held in accordance with the Open Meetings Act. The Board’s decision is final.

IV.G.2. Change in Contract Status

IV.G.2.1. Policy

The College has various types of employment contracts with many of its employees.  The policy below addresses the modification, extension, and non-renewal of employment contracts in a fair manner that complies with local, state, and federal law.

IV.G.2.2. Definitions

(a) Change in Contract Status: A change in contract status occurs when a President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting directly to the Chancellor, recommends to the Chancellor a change in a subordinate’s employment contract status. It can also occur when the Chancellor recommends to the Board a change in a direct-report’s employment contract status. Change in contract status can take one of three forms:

  1. The return to an annual contract in the subsequent academic year in the case of a faculty member or administrator on a multiple-year contract.
  2. The continuation of an annual contract in the subsequent academic year in the case of a faculty member or administrator on an annual contract but who has, since execution of that annual contract, become eligible for a multiple-year contract.
  1. The non-renewal of either an annual or multiple-year contract in the subsequent academic year.

 

(b) Notice: Notice of intention to effectuate a change in contract status as defined in the section above shall be given by the Chancellor to a full-time faculty member on or before March 1st preceding the end of the contract term fixed in the current contract—provided the faculty member was employed before March 1st. All other contractual employees may receive this notice as late as May 30. Not receiving this Notice does not create a property interest or an expectation of continued employment beyond the term of the employee’s current contract. This process is not valid in the event that the Board of Trustees takes action for a Reduction in Force.

IV.G.2.3. Appealing a Contractual Change of Status Recommendation

The appeal of a Notice depends on the employee’s position at the time the contractual employee received the Notice.

(a) Vice Chancellor, President, or Chief Area Officers.

An employee who has received notice of a proposed change of status will have up to 20 working days to appeal a contractual change of status recommendation made by the Chancellor to the Board of Trustees. The request for an appeal presentation must be made to the Board Liaison.

The affected employee will have 30 minutes to explain his/her basis for why the change in status should not be upheld.The Chancellor will also have 30 minutes to explain the basis for the recommendation.No cross-examination will be permitted by either side, although the Board members may ask questions of the affected employee and the Chancellor.The Board will decide whether to uphold the Chancellor’s recommendation.Such decision will be made at the meeting at which the presentation is made or at a subsequent meeting which has been properly posted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act.

(b) All Other Contractual Employees.

From the date of receipt of the Notice the affected employee will have up to 20 working days to appeal a contractual change of status recommendation to the Office of the Chancellor.

The Chancellor’s review will include a personal meeting with the affected employee and the recommending President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting directly to the Chancellor. The President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer will have 30 minutes to explain the basis for the initial recommendation and provide any documentation. 

The affected employee will then have 30 minutes to explain his/her basis for why the change in contract status should not be upheld by the Chancellor and will also have the opportunity to provide supporting documentation. Neither the supervisor, nor the affected employee, may cross-examine or question each other during their respective 30 minutes.

The Chancellor will notify the affected employee no later than 15 working days following receipt of the appeal of the Notice. The employee may directly appeal to the Board if the employee alleges a Procedural Irregularity of this Section’s processes is appealable as allowed by Section IV.E.6.6. The Chancellor will forward to the Board of Trustees all accepted recommendations and recommendations not appealed.

The process permitted by this policy constitutes a grievance for purposes of Texas Education Code Section 51.960.  

IV.G.3. Employment Termination

IV.G.3.1. Policy

An employee’s employment may end. This section addresses the College’s authority to end an employee’s employment and due process issues for contractual employees.

IV.G.3.2. Non-Contractual Employees

Non-contractual employees are employed at will and have no property interest in their continued employment. A non-contractual employee’s employment may be immediately terminated with or without prior notice and with or without a reason. Non-contractual employees have no due process right of notice or opportunity for an appeal hearing.

IV.G.3.3. Contractual Employees

Contractual employees have a property interest during the term of their employment contract. A contractual employee’s employment contract may be terminated during the term of the contract for cause. Termination for cause includes, but is not limited to, misconduct, insubordination, dishonesty, incompetency, negligence, mistreating co-workers or students, misusing College funds, violating civil rights policies, continued performance issues, substantial unauthorized absences that negatively affect the College, misusing authority, failing to complete required training, or violating any Board policy. Employment contracts are terminated in accordance with the Contractual Termination Notice and Appeal Process.

IV.G.3.4. Contractual Termination Notice and Appeal

An employment contract with the College creates a property interest in the position solely for the contract’s period of time. A contractual employee recommended for termination during a contract term is entitled to a pre-termination notice and pre-termination appeal under this policy. If during the process, however, an employee’s contract expires, the employee loses their property interest and this process ceases immediately. This process applies only to employees with signed and unexpired employment contracts.

(a) Pre-termination Notice: A contractual employee’s supervising President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting directly to the Chancellor, must deliver a Notice of Forthcoming Termination providing notice of the charges raised against the employee, the nature of the evidence supporting those charges, and an opportunity for the employee to respond in writing.

Or in the case of a President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting directly to the Chancellor, if the Chancellor intends to propose the termination of a contractual employee who is a direct report to the Chancellor the Chancellor will deliver a Notice of Forthcoming Termination providing notice of the charges raised against the employee, the nature of the evidence supporting those charges, and an opportunity for the employee to respond in writing. The contractual employee shall have five working days to respond to the Notice of Forthcoming Termination before it is converted to a Notice of Recommended Termination. If an employee has not already been placed on administrative leave, the Notice of Recommended Termination shall also automatically place the employee on administrative leave during the pendency of any appeal.

Either category of contractual employee shall have five working days to respond to the Notice of Forthcoming Termination before it is converted to a Notice of Recommended Termination. If an employee has not already been placed on administrative leave, the Notice of Recommended Termination shall also automatically place the employee on administrative leave during the pendency of any appeal. If no appeal is filed, the Notice of Recommended Termination will automatically become a Notice of Termination on the 16th day following receipt of the Notice of Recommended Termination. The Board of Trustees delegates to the Chancellor the authority to terminate an employee’s employment in such a situation.

(b) Pre-termination Appeal: That contractual employee has the right to request a hearing once his or her supervisor delivers a written Notice of Recommended Termination. That contractual employee must file a written request with the Chancellor within 15 working days after receiving that Notice of Recommended Termination. The written request for an appeal must specify whether the employee elects a representative. A contractual employee may elect to use legal representation during a pre- termination proceeding in the notice phase or in the appeal phase. The contractual employee is responsible for the costs of such representation.

  1. Appeal: The contractual employee will have an opportunity to present evidence before the Chancellor alleging the termination is without cause, and/or would violate state or federal law. The Board of Trustees will hear any appeal from a President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer. Every reference to “the Chancellor” below, as it relates to a President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer should be interpreted to mean “the Board of Trustees” when the contractual employee being recommended for termination is a President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting directly to the Chancellor at the time of the Chancellor’s recommended termination. Likewise, every reference to the President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer below should be interpreted to mean the Chancellor when the subject contractual employee is a President, Vice Chancellor or Chief Area Officer reporting directly to the Chancellor.
  1. Hearing Date: A hearing shall take place within thirty (30) working days after the employee files a written request for such hearing with the Chancellor.
  1. Hearing Records: The employee and the employee’s President, Vice-Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting to the Chancellor, will submit to the Chancellor a statement identifying their concerns in employee’s continued employment. If the employee chooses to present witnesses at the pre-termination appeal hearing, then the employee may present individual witnesses during the hearing and copies of all documentation relied upon and in support of their position. At least ten (10) working days prior to the hearing, both the employee and the employee’s President, Vice- Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer shall furnish at least three copies of the hearing records, the names of witnesses, and name of any representative, to the Chancellor. The Chancellor will review only the hearing records submitted by the employee and his or her President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting directly to the Chancellor, and upon convening the hearing, invite responses to certain questions in order to reach a decision.
  1. Time Allocation: Both the employee and the employee’s President, Vice Chancellor, or Chief Area Officer reporting to the Chancellor, recommending the termination will each have no more than thirty (30) minutes to present to the Chancellor. During the 30 minutes, the employee and the recommending supervisor may present their respective positions regarding the termination recommendation, including presentation of witnesses. This process does not provide for any cross- examination of the witnesses, or questioning of the employee and/or employee’s supervisor, or designee, from the other party or his or her representatives. The Chancellor will have thirty (30) minutes in which to question the parties present at the hearing, including witnesses.
  1. Decision: The Chancellor will make a decision within fifteen (15) working days of the hearing. The decision of the Chancellor shall be final. An employee may appeal the Chancellor’s final decision if the employee alleges a Procedural Irregularity of this policy section, as defined in the Grievance and Review Process, and as allowed by Section.IV.E.6.6.
  1. Representation: The employee may choose to have a representative at the hearing. The employee shall bear his or her own costs of any such representation.
  1. Notice of Representation: The employee or his or her representative, including the legal representative, must provide at least ten (10) working days’ notice of such representation prior to any hearing under this section. The College’s General Counsel or a designee must be present at the hearing.
  1. Prohibition on Using College Resources: The employee and his or her Representative, including the legal representative, shall not meet during the employee’s working hours when preparing for the employee’s pre-termination notice response or hearing and shall not use the College’s resources when preparing for either.
  1. Modification: The Chancellor and his or her designee may modify the pre-termination hearing procedures upon written notice to the requesting employee and prior to the Hearing Date. The Chancellor’s modification is not a “Procedural Irregularity.”

IV.G.4. Timeliness

The time limits, as provided in the Employee Grievance and Review Process and the Contractual Termination and Notice and Appeal policies are created in order to ensure that issues are raised and addressed promptly. Timelines for the filing of and response to appeals under these policies may be extended by the mutual agreement of the employee and the Chancellor’s Office. An appeal shall be considered resolved at the completion of any step, if all parties are satisfied or if neither party files a timely appeal to the next step.

The process permitted by these policies constitutes a grievance for purposes of Texas Education Code Section 51.960.