Written Reprimands

Last Updated: 
Effective Date: 
Reason for Policy: 

To describe the purposes for which written reprimands are appropriately issued and to establish procedures for issuing written reprimands and maintaining them in University files.

Policy Statement: 

A written reprimand is a serious disciplinary action. A written reprimand, a letter from a responsible University supervisor to an employee of the University in which that employee's unsatisfactory or unacceptable behavior or work performance is described and the necessity for change is noted. A reprimand also warns of future disciplinary procedures that shall be taken in the absence of improved performance. A written reprimand is often in order when previous oral or written warnings have not had their hoped for effect. Certain circumstances may warrant issuing a written reprimand as the first disciplinary action taken against an employee. A written reprimand can be distinguished from a written warning or admonition in that a reprimand is placed in an employee's personnel file and retained there for a predetermined amount of time.


When a supervisor believes that issuing a written reprimand to a classified, or student employee, may be appropriate, the supervisor should consult with the Director of the Office of Human Resources to make sure that all appropriate University policies, procedures, and contractual relationships are observed.

When a supervisor believes that issuing a written reprimand to a member of the faculty may be appropriate, the supervisor should contact the vice president to whom the supervisor is responsible to make sure that all appropriate University policies and procedures are observed.

Formal processes, such as a hearing by a peer panel, that must be made available to employees before sanctions more serious than written reprimands may be imposed are not required prior to issuing a written reprimand. However, employees do have the right to know with specificity what behavior or performance has been found to be deficient and to respond to or dispute the findings, before a written reprimand may be issued. Providing this opportunity to the employee to be heard may be accomplished either in a face-to-face meeting between the supervisor and the employee, with any representatives the parties may wish to have present, or it may take place in writing. In either case, the supervisor must tell the employee what the deficient behavior is, and ask for any information, explanation, or other evidence that the employee may have that might change the supervisor's understanding of the situation. Supervisors have the responsibility to consider any information or contrary evidence the employee may submit before issuing a letter of reprimand.

A written reprimand should be in letter form addressed to the employee and signed by the supervisor. It should be delivered to the employee in confidence or sent via the U.S. Postal Service with a return receipt requested, and it should contain the following elements:

1. A description of the behavior or performance that has been found to be unacceptable or unsatisfactory. If University rules or policies have been violated, those should be cited.

2. A description of the supervisor's expectations for future behavior or work performance or any suggested or required remedial activities that the employee must undertake or should consider undertaking.

3. A description of any further disciplinary processes and sanctions that may be pursued if the employee does not improve or repeats the unacceptable behavior.

4. The period of time that the written reprimand shall remain in the employee's personnel file.

5. Notice to the employee that he or she has the right to place a rebuttal of the written reprimand in the personnel file to be retained there so long as the written reprimand is also present.

Written reprimands are documents relating to employee discipline, and therefore are confidential under state law and university policy. It is a violation of law and policy to disclose such personal information to anyone who does not have a University imposed need to know, The University may acknowledge to those inquiring that institutional action has been taken regarding an employee, but the existence of a written reprimand or any of the reprimand's contents may not be disclosed.

Issued by: 
Revision History: 

08 February 2010 - Policy number revised from 3.01 to 03.04.04

27 October 1993 - Reviewed and Recommended by the university president's staff

Supersedes 7 March 1986 Procedure Guideline: Written Reprimands

Original Source: 
UO Policy Statement