To "disrupt the reputation of the University"
is now subject to punishment by university officials
under Stanford's Discharge Guide Memo 22.8

Jack Truher,   rev. 2011-01-24                           
alumnus            1956-1960
Stanford employee  1965-1996         What does "At Will" really mean?"

Every employees' terms of employment are heaving influenced by threat of discharge, whether for cause, at-will, or by some entrapment by rule of particulars. At Stanford those terms begin with Guide Memo 22.8 on SEPARATIONS, which has recently been revised.


These are significant changes to the new one. Previous discharge was for "just cause"; now it is for "some form of cause". Previously "Gross Misconduct, e.g.: theft, assault" was considered pertinent. The language now which substitutes is: "Misconduct, e.g., theft, assault, actions which are detrimental to or disrupt the reputation or operations of the University."

Compare Guide Memo 22.8 in years 2002 to the new 22.8 for 2010. What has changed:


Now,"cannot be discharged except for just cause" has been replaced by "cannot be discharged without some form of cause as defined in Guide Memo 22.15 (Corrective Action). The vague "some form of cause is misleading". In the context, the meaning is "those particular forms of cause defined in 22.15." What is wrong with "just cause"? If not just cause, is discharge for unjust cause alright now?


"Gross Misconduct, e.g.: theft, assault" has been replaced by "Misconduct, e.g. theft, assault, actions which are detrimental to or disrupt the reputation or operations of the University." The impossibly vague value construct which overlays "disrupt the reputation of the University" as a primary cause for discharge is probably illegal. The University is primarily a place of argumentation. No one should be at risk of discharge for opinion on reputability, no matter how absurd. On the other hand, "to disrupt the operations of the University certainly should be subject to penalty, including discharge after appropriate due process has been exercised. Conflating the intangible "reputation" with "operations" attacks the truth-seeking mission of the University, and should have been identified as a disgrace by the first reader.


The thrust of these two changes reveals a newly determined Royalist top-down concept of workplace culture, which, in this writer's view, has gradually but tragicly eroded the "Winds of Freedom" spirit which prevailed in the major research Universities in the early decades of my experience. There is abundant evidence from the prevailing self-censorship among staff, whose unwillingness to be viewed as a declared advocate or partisan for principle, even in their own work, is self-evident. In an era characterized primarily by growing disparities of wealth and power, Stanford's thousands of employees are, in the main, silent. With the realities of injustice screaming for informed change, Stanford self-propagates the status quo by silencing its own, now to protect its fragile "reputation". I object.


Note: A careful reader will note that the obnoxious "disrupt the reputation" criteria does not appear exactly as grounds for dismissal, but instead in the section,

c. Notice — Discharged employees receive two weeks’ notice...

This is not likely an accident. Any employee who consults G.M.22.8 will be under such stress that they will not grasp the legal significance of placement. Slipping the phrase anywhere into Discharge 22.8 will send the intended message to the employee being separated:

The University intends to punish you for any expression and opinion, which might "embarrass the University".(a more common expression).

This incidental placement is probably the result of compromise between the punitive primary author of the 22.8 discharge criteria, and a reviewing University lawyer, who realized that such a criteria could negate an appeal for court-ordered reversal of discharge.

University Guide Memos, in particular Admin Guide announcement What's New for 2010- includes one on Separation, with change in the Discharge Section 6. These changes are described by the University as follows.

"22.8 Separation from Employment
Deleted the separation process and the grievance procedure.
In definition of gross misconduct, added damage or disruption to the University's reputation or operations."

While I have not been following GM 22.8 over the 50 or so years of my association with the University, I do have a copy the 2002 version. These Guide Memos aren't changed very often. I suspect the 2002 version is similar to the version just previous to the new one.


compare Admin Guide Memo 22.8 on Separations


6. DISCHARGE ( year 2002 )


a. Definition - A discharge is an involuntary termination of employment from the University for cause.

b. Policy - Except for Senior Staff employees (see Guide Memo 22.13, Senior Staff Employees, http://adminguide.stanford.edu/22_13.pdf, an employee shall not be discharged except for just cause,which may include, but is not limited to, unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, unavailability for

work, not returning from an approved leave, or a combination of such causes. A supervisor must consult with the appropriate regional human resources manager, and may not discharge an employee for cause if the discharge has been disapproved by the appropriate regional human resources manager.

c. Guide to Supervisors -

(1) Notice - Employees discharged will receive two weeks of notice or pay in lieu of notice or a combination of pay and notice except in any of the following circumstances:

Gross misconduct, e.g., theft, assault

• Facts which lead the University to conclude the employee has abandoned the job

• Failure or inability of the employee to return to work at the end of an authorized absence, e.g., temporary layoff, leave of absence, vacation

• Other unauthorized absence from work


(2). Consultation - It is important for supervisors to identify potential discharge situations as early as possible and to take prompt measures in an attempt to correct the situation with the appropriate manager, director, or officer, with the local human resources officer, and with the appropriate regional human resources manager. If the situation requires that action be taken before consultation can take place to determine appropriate corrective action, the supervisor may suspend the employee temporarily with or without pay pending the results of further review and investigation. For further guidance in handling performance, misconduct, and other potential disciplinary problems, Guide Memo 22.15, Corrective Action, http://adminguide.stanford.edu/22_15.pdf.

(3). Grievance - See Guide Memo 22.10, Staff Dispute Resolution,

http://adminguide.stanford.edu/22_10.pdf, for the exclusive procedure for determining any regular employee claims that the management has failed to adhere to these or any other University policies with respect to discharge from University employment.


(3). Grievance -See Guide Memo 22.10, Staff Dispute Resolution,

http://adminguide.stanford.edu/22_10.pdf, for the exclusive procedure for determining any regular employee claims that the management has failed to adhere to these or any other University policies with respect to discharge from University employment.



6. DISCHARGE (year 2010)


a. Definition - A discharge is an involuntary termination of employment from the University. See these resources for additional information:


Guide Memo 22.15, Addressing Conduct & Performance Issues.

For trial period discharges, see Guide Memo 22.14, Trial Period.

For information about the separation of employment of senior staff, see Guide Memo 22.13, Senior Staff.


For a layoff, see Guide Memo 22.16, Layoffs.


b. Policy - With the exception of Trial Period and Senior Staff, employees cannot be terminated without some form of cause as defined in Guide Memo 22.15. A supervisor must consult with the local HR Office before the decision to discharge an employee, and cannot finalize the discharge decision without the concurrence of their next level manager and review and approval by the Office of the Vice President of Human Resources or his/her designee.


c. Notice - Discharged employees receive two weeks' notice, pay in lieu of notice, or a combination of pay and notice, except in any of these circumstances:

  • Misconduct, e.g., theft, assault, actions which are detrimental to or disrupt the reputation or operations of the University.
  • Facts which lead the University to conclude the employee has abandoned the job.
  • Failure or inability of the employee to return to work at the end of an authorized absence, e.g., temporary layoff, leave of absence, or vacation.
  • Other unauthorized absence from work.




This web page is http://www.peacework.us/su/reputation-22p8/dischargeSU.html
by Jack Truher