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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Perez

Seven Essential Steps of Due Process “A Guide for Supervisors & Policy Makers”

Author: George Perez


In any fair and equitable workplace, the concept of "just cause" due process is

paramount. Just cause and due process is a cornerstone of fair employment

practices, ensuring that employees are treated equitably and that disciplinary

actions are taken with integrity. By following these seven essential steps,

organizations can foster a workplace environment that respects employees' rights and upholds principles of justice.

This procedural framework ensures that employees' rights are protected, and

disciplinary actions are taken based on legitimate grounds. This article is an

opportunity to share concepts and guidelines that are taught in a variety of

courses at Public Agency Training Council by Instructor George A. Perez, which

include Essentials of Internal Affairs Investigations, Investigating Citizen

Complaints, and First Line Supervision & Management.

The following provides a detailed overview of the seven essential steps of just

cause and due process, which also draws on reputable sources and legal


1. Notice of the Allegation: The process begins with a clear and concise

notice given to the employee regarding the allegations against them. This

notice should outline the specifics of the alleged misconduct and provide

them with adequate information to prepare their defense.

2. Investigation: A thorough and impartial investigation must be conducted

to gather all relevant facts and evidence related to the allegations. This

step ensures that the decision is well-informed and based on a

comprehensive understanding of the situation.

3. Fair Hearing: In most employment policies, states, and labor procedures,

the employee is given an opportunity for a fair hearing, during which they

can present their case, cross-examine witnesses, and provide evidence to

support their defense. This hearing should be conducted by an unbiased


4. Decision Based on Evidence: The decision-maker should weigh the

evidence presented during the investigation and the hearing. The decision

should be rooted in the facts, considering the credibility of witnesses and

the relevance of evidence. A common pitfall is the infusion of personal

opinions that are unrelated to or relevant to the facts of the case.

5. Consistency in Application: Disciplinary actions should be consistent with

the organization's past practices. Inconsistencies in applying discipline can

weaken the credibility of the process and may lead to legal challenges.

Additionally, applying ad-hoc decisions or disregarding past practices may

cause enhanced scrutiny on the process and those involved.

6. Progressive Discipline: When appropriate, organizations should follow a

progressive discipline approach, starting with less severe penalties and

escalating only if the behavior continues. This approach gives employees

an opportunity to correct their behavior. Occurrences will arise when an

employee’s behavior is so pervasive that it requires a deviation from a

progressive discipline framework. In the instances, the mitigating factors

should be carefully detailed and documented to support the noted

deviation in disciplinary range.

7. Right to Appeal: Employees should have the right to appeal the decision if

they believe that the process was not fair or if new evidence comes to light.

This ensures that the process is accountable and transparent.

This article is intended to provide general focus and guidance for discussion in

policy development and navigating the due process framework. The most

important takeaways of this article are; practicing consistency in reporting and

documentation, timeliness, equity, and fairness throughout disciplinary and

employee accountability processes.

Here are some important resources that can serve as further assistance to policy

developers and organizational leaders alike.


• National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). "What is Just Cause?" (

• U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). "Procedural

Regulations: Just Cause and Due Process" (

• American Bar Association (ABA). "Just Cause: An Overview of Employee

Disciplinary Actions" (

• Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). "Disciplinary Action and

Just Cause: Avoiding the Legal Pitfalls" (

• Cornell University ILR School. "Progressive Discipline and Just Cause:

Balancing Employee Rights and the Need for an Effective Workplace"


• WorldatWork. "Employee Discipline and Appeals: A Global Perspective on

Best Practices" (

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