Employment Related Laws and Policies
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Job Accommodation During Employment
Employees in their present position, who are otherwise qualified and have or acquire a permanent medical impairment or impairments causing functional restrictions or limitations that can be reasonably accommodated, will be provided such measures by Shepherd University if reasonable accommodation will permit them to meet the essential requirements of their particular jobs. ADA Reasonable Accommodation information and forms are available on the Human Resources website. The Accommodation Request form and Medical Document Form and Physician’s Statement should be completed and submitted to the Human Resources Office.
Shepherd University is committed to providing a safe working and learning environment for its employees, students, and visitors. It also seeks to protect its assets, preserve its reputation, and comply with laws, regulations, and agreements. Depending upon the position and the duties within the University, initial employment, and/or continued employment may be contingent upon a satisfactory background check.
In order to verify the pertinent backgrounds of individuals before being hired into positions at Shepherd University, the University conducts pre-employment background checks as part of its employment procedures. The University contracts with an outside agency to perform the background checks.
The background checks may involve review of any information which would be lawful for the University to acquire and to consider as a part of its consideration for employment. The authorization, signed by the candidate, expressly includes, but is not limited to, authorization for release of education records of institutions of higher education and prior employment records (including any information relating to confidential information about job performance, attendance, reason for separation, if applicable, or matters of discipline or misconduct, whether alleged or documented), as well as the authorization to conduct a criminal records background check of the candidate. Depending on the nature of the position, a credit check may also be completed.
As a general rule, the results of the investigation will be received before an offer of employment is made. However, under some circumstances, an offer of employment may be made prior to the completion of the background check; whenever this occurs, it is with the stipulation that employment is contingent upon a satisfactory report. Contracts or appointment letters generally contain the following statement: “This offer is contingent upon the completion of a background investigation which reveals satisfactory results.” Although the offer may be made in this manner, the employee may not begin working for the University until a start date is approved by the HR Office.
If an individual is to be denied employment, promotion, or transfer wholly or partly because of information obtained in a background check conducted by third parties, the individual will be so informed. In addition, where required by law and to the extent applicable, the individual will be given (a) a copy of the relevant background check report, (b) a summary of the individual’s legal rights concerning the background check report, and (c) the name, address and phone number of the third-party vendor if the individual has questions about the results of the report or wants to dispute the accuracy of the report. (Note, however, that the vendor does not make employment decisions and will be unable to provide any individual with specific reasons as to why the adverse action was taken.) Any questions concerning this policy may be directed to the Office of Human Resources.
Access to Personnel Files
A confidential personnel file containing pertinent employment information is maintained in the Human Resources Office for each employee. Employees are entitled to inspect or copy their personnel files in the presence of a Human Resources staff member. The employee shall not be entitled to inspect or copy any letter of reference or other similar record that he or she has previously waived the right to inspect when the information was solicited by or supplied to Shepherd University based on such waiver. If employees wish to examine their personnel files, they should notify the Human Resources Office by phone or by filing a written appointment request at least 24 hours in advance of the desired appointment time. Personnel files may be examined only during normal Shepherd University business hours. The response of the Human Resources Office to outside requests for employment verification is generally restricted to the release of the employee’s name, employment dates, and job title. Salaries of State employees are a matter of public record and annual compensation is reported on the State Auditor’s website.
Criminal Convictions Self Disclosure
Current employees must notify the Director of Human Resources of any criminal conviction in writing within three business days of the conviction. Criminal convictions, as used here, include all felony and misdemeanor convictions, as well as guilty pleas, pleas of no contest or nolo contendere, and acceptance of deferred adjudication. The term does not include criminal convictions related to minor traffic violations except in cases where the relevant position requires operation of a motor vehicle. Employees who fail to disclose criminal convictions or fail to provide accurate details regarding criminal convictions will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination. Upon report of a criminal conviction, the Director of Human Resources, in consultation with the General Counsel, will determine whether the criminal conviction bears a significant relationship to the employee’s suitability to continue to perform the required duties of the position. If it is determined based on the conviction that the employee is no longer suitable, the employee’s employment may be terminated. If it is determined that the employee is suitable or it is unclear whether the employee is still suitable, the employee may be placed on administrative leave pending further review.
Drug-Free Workplace Policy and Procedures
All employees of Shepherd University, including faculty, staff, administrators, and student employees, must comply with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-690 Title V, Subtitle D, 41 U.S.C. 701 et. seq.) and The Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities Act of 1989. The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in the work place. Employees may not share prescription drugs with anyone else either for payment or free of charge. Being at work under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol is prohibited. As a condition of Shepherd University employment, every employee shall abide by the terms of this policy and notify their supervisors and the Human Resources Office of any conviction of drug or alcohol related charges resulting from any activity occurring in the work place or otherwise on University premises no later than five days after such conviction. Any employee found in violation of this provision shall be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal, and may be required to participate in a drug abuse assistance or drug rehabilitation program.
Employees who are perceived to be intoxicated may be asked to leave work. In some cases, they may be given the opportunity to undergo a field evaluation by a Shepherd University Police Officer to assess mental sobriety/acuity. Final determination of the status of the employee is made by the employee’s supervisors.
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action Policy
Shepherd University is an equal opportunity and affirmative action institution. The University neither affiliates knowingly with, nor grants recognition to, any individual, group or organization having policies that discriminate. Shepherd University, through its Affirmative Action Plan, seeks to employ qualified personnel on an equal opportunity basis. Faculty, staff, students, and applicants are protected from retaliation for filing complaints or assisting in an investigation under the University’s Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan. Supervisors are directly responsible for equal opportunity/affirmative action matters at the unit level. A copy of the University’s Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Plan is available for review on the Human Resources website. The Director of Human Resources also serves as the Director of Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity.
Shepherd University does not tolerate harassment in the work place, or of members of the University community, and wants to provide an environment free of any form of harassment. Harassment is defined as any form of conduct that would be offensive, intimidating, or threatening to the average person and is done on the basis of race, religion, gender, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, handicap, citizenship, familial status, or because of the recipient’s relationship with person(s) of protected class status. Harassment may be of a sexual, racial, or more general nature. Harassment may also include bullying and cyber-stalking. Workplace bullying refers to repeated, unreasonable actions of individuals (or a group of employees), which is intended to intimidate and creates a risk to the health and safety of the employee(s). Cyber-stalking is the use of electronic means (such as the internet, smart phones, and other electronic devices) to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization.
Employees or students who believe that they have been harassed in violation of this policy should take the steps that are outlined in the Harassment Policy of the University. The harassment policies outline formal and informal resolution steps. Individuals such as the Director of Human Resources, the Campus Ombudsperson, and the Director of Counseling are available to provide assistance. Any supervisor, agent or other employee who is found, after appropriate investigation, to have engaged in the harassment of another employee or student will be subject to appropriate sanctions depending on the circumstances, up to and including termination of employment.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) are to be maintained in the workplace for any hazardous material present. Supervisors of departments where chemical hazards are present are responsible for establishing and maintaining MSDS information in a readily accessible location within the department. Employees are encouraged to review those safety sheets. Employees who are concerned about materials which they believe may be hazardous, but which have not been identified as such, should consult with their supervisor before handling the material. If the concern is not satisfied, then the employee may contact Facilities Management or the Safety Coordinator for assistance (304-876-5236).
Hiring of Relatives
Consistent with Shepherd University policy and the State Ethics Act, employees may neither initiate nor participate in institutional personnel decisions involving a direct benefit to an immediate family member. Such decisions include, but are not limited to, hiring, supervision, retention, promotion, salary, and leave of absence. Family member is defined by one of the following: relationships by blood (parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, first cousin); or relationships by marriage (husband, wife, step-parent, step-child, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, half-brother, half-sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece) or partner relationship (live-in boyfriend/girlfriend and their children).
Supervisors must be attentive to avoiding any conduct that would violate the Ethics rules on nepotism, including any instance of a relative working for a supervisor who reports under them. If a supervisor has an issue of possible nepotism, it is the supervisor’s responsibility to review the matter with the Director of Human Resources.
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires all employees, as a condition of employment, to provide original documents which establish their identity and employment eligibility. The Human Resources Office must receive the employee’s completed and signed Section 1 of the USCIS Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) not later than the employee’s first day of work. By no later than the employee’s third day of work, the Human Resources staff must complete Section 2 of the Form I-9. Employees may not continue to work beyond the third day unless the Form I-9 is completed. Shepherd University retains copies of completed I-9 forms for a period of years as required by the Act.
Reduction in Force
The termination of employment of any full-time regular employee requires the prior written approval of the University President; this includes any proposed reduction in force. In the event a full-time regular classified position is eliminated because of lack of funds or work, the University will comply with the requirements of Board of Governors Policy. Supervisors are required to consult with the Director of Human Resources about proper layoff management if conditions indicate taking such action.
Tobacco Free Campus
Effective January 1, 2020, smoking and the use of all tobacco products are prohibited on Shepherd University campuses. This includes the use of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco such as chew or snuff, electronic vaping devices, and hookahs. This prohibition includes all Shepherd University facilities, grounds within the campus boundaries and within University owned or leased vehicles, regardless of registration or off road status. Please see the entire policy on the website.
Solicitation and selling of products and articles on Shepherd University property, owned or leased, is prohibited except by organizations and groups directly affiliated with and recognized by Shepherd, and authorized by written approval of the University President or the President’s designee. The names of Shepherd University and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission may not be used to secure funds for any purpose or through any means without the written permission of the University President or the President’s designee. Employees may not participate in the solicitation of funds by sales or donation, stated or implied, using the name of the institution or their title without the written permission of the University President or the President’s designee. Employees may not use their work time to promote personal financial interests.
Telecommunications and Computing Resources
All use of IT resources must be in compliance with the IT Services Policies, including the Acceptable Use policies and Security Policies, which are found on the IT Services website.
Incidental personal use of institutional computers and network systems for a non-institutional purpose is permitted in moderation during an employee’s personal time. Incidental personal use is permissible as long as it:
- Is completed on personal time (i.e. lunch time, break);
- Does not consume more than a trivial amount of systems resources;
- Does not interfere with worker productivity;
- Does not preempt business activity;
- Does not violate any State, department, or agency policy; and
- Is not used for illegal activities.
However, whether on University time or personal time, some personal uses of the computers and network systems are not permitted unless expressly authorized by the supervisor of the employee. Prohibited activities include and are not limited to:
- Downloads and/or streaming of entertainment media, including but not limited to television shows, movies, and other video transmissions which are not directly related to Shepherd University and/or the work of the employee;
- Downloading software or other copyrighted material in violation of the copyright;
- Any form of gambling;
- Playing of any games, unless actually related to the employee’s job duties; and
- Unauthorized downloading of shareware programs, peer-to-peer software or files for use without the advanced authorization of the employee’s supervisor and IT Services, unless directly related to the employee’s job duties
Egregious violations of these policies may be deemed to be gross misconduct.
Employees must take care to preserve the security of equipment and data which they have access to. Negligent use of the email or the Shepherd University network in a manner which results in a breach of security of institutional records and data may result in disciplinary action.
Shepherd University programs, personnel, time, titles, and property, including equipment, systems, vehicles, information, supplies, and office space are to be used in conducting authorized business of the University. Use of such property for personal benefit or gain may be grounds for disciplinary action.
Private information protected under policy or law, such as certain financial, personnel, patient, donor, or any student information, histories, and mailing lists, is to remain confidential. Such information may be disclosed, viewed, or copied only with proper authorization and must be disposed of in a manner that retains this confidentially. Willful disclosure, viewing, or copying of private information without the authorization from one’s supervisor may result in disciplinary action and/or legal prosecution.
Employees are responsible for securing the University building, office, room, equipment, and other keys assigned to them for work-related reasons. Costs incurred by the institution as the result of unauthorized use or the misuse of University property, such as but not limited to personal telephone calls, will be recovered from the responsible employee. Personal calls must be limited at all times except for emergencies. Employees may not use institutional phones for personal long-distance calls unless they are charging them to their home telephone numbers or personal credit cards or securing a personal access code whereby charges will be incurred directly to the employee.
The University disposes of large quantities of “trash” every day. Depending upon the position held, every staff member has varying levels of discretion in choosing to throw away University property that is not inventoried. However, no employee may take for personal use any University property. Employee retrieval of items from trashcans, dumpsters, etc., for personal use is permissible only if a supervisor with authority over the University property confirms in writing that the item has been “discarded” by the University. An employee is never authorized to take anything on the Shepherd campus for personal use on a basis of it “appearing” to be abandoned; this will be treated as theft. This includes items that had belonged to students or visitors to the campus.
Entering into Contracts
Employees are prohibited from entering into contracts on behalf of the University or any department within the University. Contracts include agreements with an entity to provide some service or commodity. Contracts may be entered into only by those at the Vice President/Executive Officer level or their designees.
Employees are expected to maintain the confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and other confidential materials and information, and of student records, any of which may be of a personal, academic, financial or health nature. The unauthorized access of or disclosure of confidential information may compromise the integrity of the department and/or otherwise violate individual rights of privacy. The confidentiality of each of these categories of information is required under Shepherd University policy, state law, and federal laws including FERPA, GLBA, and HIPPA.
Confidential materials that employees may come in contact with must remain confidential and must stay secured in the relevant department unless otherwise directed by the supervisor or as expressly delineated in employees’ job duties to process the information, as directed by their supervisor. Confidential information in the form of paper or electronic media may include but is not limited to: student records, parent/family records, financial statements, grades, teacher’s records, employee records, and student employee documents. Employees are expected to maintain professionalism by ensuring that all of these materials remain confidential.
It is a breach of employees’ duties to fail to adhere to the following standards:
- Use and disclose confidential information only in connection with and for the purpose of performing assigned duties.
- Request, obtain or communicate confidential information only as reasonably necessary to perform work duties, and refrain from requesting or obtaining or communicating a broader scope of confidential information than is necessary for work duties.
- Confidential information on computers must be appropriately secured, including to reasonably diminish the risk of inappropriate persons viewing confidential information on the computer monitor. Unattended computers must be secured by either log-off or password-protected screen-saver/sleep mode.
- Passwords to University network accounts must never be shared with other persons and should not be used for any other accounts, personal or business.
If an unauthorized use or disclosure of confidential information occurs, or is reasonably believed to be likely to have occurred, employees must make their direct supervisors aware of the breach immediately. If it is found that an employee has failed to comply with these standards of confidentiality, workplace discipline may possibly include termination of that employee from the University.
Service and Support Animals in the Workplace
Approval for Shepherd University employees to bring a service animal or support animal to the workplace must be obtained from the Human Resources Office through an Americans with Disabilities (ADA) accommodation request. Supporting medical documentation must be provided by a licensed healthcare provider who personally has seen the employee who is requesting to bring a service or support animal to work. For details about employees’ responsibilities and the causes of disallowance from continued use, please go to the Policies and Procedures page of the HR website.