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Performance Standards

Section 211

In keeping with its mission of delivering high-quality education to students, the college requires high standards of performance from its employees. However, situations sometimes arise when an employee’s job performance or conduct does not meet these required standards. While the college wishes to assist employees encountering difficulties, it reserves the right to terminate employment at its discretion. Employment at Smith College is on an at-will basis and therefore either party may end the employment relationship at any time.

Regardless of any specific policies or infractions listed here, the college has and reserves the right to discipline, suspend, or discharge employees or to take any other appropriate action that it believes necessary to protect the rights and safety of members of the college community.

Supervisory Referral

Supervisors may refer employees to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) when there are indications of job performance difficulty that might be appropriate for EAP counseling. Your supervisor would make an informal referral if, for example, you confided that you were having difficulty in your personal life. Your supervisor would make a formal referral to the EAP if you had work performance issues. In this case, your supervisor would discuss the concerns and outline the corrective steps that you must take. You would be asked to sign a voluntary “release of information” form, which allows the EAP to confirm your attendance at counseling sessions (though not the content of those counseling sessions). An employee who has been referred to the EAP is expected to follow the recommendations of the EAP counselor and to continue to meet the performance expectations of their position.

Corrective Discipline

Where appropriate, the college uses corrective discipline in instances of failure to meet performance standards. Through informal counseling, supervisors or department heads will inform employees of instances of performance deficiencies or inappropriate conduct, indicate the improvements required, and provide an opportunity to correct the problem(s). If an employee’s performance or conduct does not improve to the required standard, a supervisor or department head may take further disciplinary action after consulting with the Office of Human Resources. Disciplinary actions may include written warning, suspension, or discharge based on the seriousness of the performance deficiency and the employee’s prior work record.

Immediate Suspension in Cases of Serious Misconduct

In cases of serious misconduct, a department head may immediately suspend an employee pending completion of an investigation and final determination of employment status.


Prior to discharging an employee, a department head must consult with the Associate Vice President for Human Resources. The employee will be notified in writing by the department head as to the reasons for discharge and the effective termination date.


The following are examples of misconduct that warrant immediate disciplinary action. These examples do not preclude the college’s right to discipline, suspend or discharge employees for other causes. The college may also discipline, suspend, or discharge employees for criminal or felonious acts which occur off college property. In cases of serious misconduct, the department head may immediately suspend an employee pending investigation of the incident.

Actions which the college considers serious breaches of acceptable conduct include, but are not limited to:

  • assaulting, threatening, intimidating, harassing, or coercing co-workers, students, or others
  • sexual or racial harassment or discrimination;
  • transporting or possessing weapons, firearms, fireworks, or explosives on college property;
  • fighting or provoking or instigating a fight or engaging in dangerous “horseplay” which could result in injury to others or damage to property;
  • insubordination or willful refusal to perform assigned duties or any type of verbal or physical abuse of a supervisor;
  • possessing or using alcohol or illegal drugs during scheduled work hours;
  • reporting to work or working under the influence of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs and/or the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensing, possession, or use of controlled substances;
  • speeding or reckless driving on college property or violating college safety rules or procedures ;
  • stealing, destroying, or defacing college, co-workers’, or students’ property or the improper or unauthorized use of college property;
  • sleeping on the job;
  • indecency in language or behavior;
  • supplying false or misleading information on the employment application, personal information questionnaire, or benefits forms, or altering or falsifying any college record (e.g., attendance records, financial records, student grades, inventories, etc.);
  • accepting gifts, gratuities, trips, or favors from firms, organizations (their employees or agents), or other individuals who provide goods and services to the college, or otherwise taking advantage of your position for personal gain. See Code of Conduct (Gifts and Gratuities) for additional information;
  • taking advantage of the office or department where you work to request or receive favored treatment or special privileges and services that are not available to other staff members at the college;
  • failing to maintain the confidentiality of college information;
  • gambling, lotteries, or other games of chance on college property;
  • duplicating or loaning college keys.

Misuse of Authorized Leaves

  • absenteeism or tardiness that, in the judgment of the college, is unexcused or excessive;
  • using an authorized leave granted for a specific purpose for any purpose other than that for which it was granted;
  • failing to report for work at the end of an authorized leave.

The college has and reserves the right to discipline, suspend or discharge employees or to take any other appropriate action which it believes necessary to protect the rights and safety of members of the college community.

College Policy on Alcoholic Beverages

It is contrary to college policy to serve alcoholic beverages to individuals who are under 21 years of age. In August 2000, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts adopted a statute which makes it a criminal offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine, for any person to furnish any alcoholic beverage to a person under 21 years, parents or grandparents of the person excepted. This law covers public and private functions, for example, dinner parties or department events.

If a college employee violates this law, and any loss or damage were to result from the behavior of individuals served at the function, the faculty or staff member would not be defended or indemnified under the college’s general liability policies, because the act was criminal in nature. The potential financial and other liability for the individual is thus enormous.

Alcohol and Drug Problems

Employees are expected to meet the performance standards for their positions. Problems with drugs or alcohol can and do affect work performance. Employees who are experiencing such problems at work are responsible for seeking help so that their performance does not negatively affect departmental or college operations. Employees whose work performance is affected may be subject to corrective action. Smith College cannot and will not tolerate drug or alcohol use in the workplace.

In order to promote an environment free of substance abuse, the college supports an active program of community awareness and education. This program extends to the misuse or abuse of controlled substances, including prescription drugs, alcohol, and other harmful substances. The college also offers assistance with confidential counseling. Faculty and staff are encouraged to refer individuals who appear to be troubled by drug or alcohol use to the Employee Assistance Program.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers confidential counseling for employees confronting substance abuse. Employees or supervisors can contact the EAP by phone (855-784-2056) or online (visit, and use the Web ID SmithEAP).

The Office of Human Resources is available to assist employees in finding appropriate professional care. Sick leave is available for physician-authorized absences for treatment. For additional information, please refer to the policies on Sick Leave, Family Leave and Leave Without Pay.

Copyright Policies

All members of the Smith College community are required to comply with copyright laws. Federal copyright laws provide valuable protection to the authors of original works, and Smith College expects all members of the Smith community to respect those rights. Copyright laws also permit users of copyrighted works to make fair use of copyrighted materials under some limited circumstances. Smith College is committed to full support of the fair use of copyrighted works by the Smith College community under the provisions of applicable laws. The Smith College community is expected to have knowledge of, and make reasonable application of, the four factors of fair use. Failure to comply with copyright laws and to act in good faith in the fair use of copyrighted material will result in a Smith College community member assuming liability for his or her actions and may result in disciplinary action.