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What Happens If It Doesn't Work Out

Conducting Difficult Conversations and Discipline

When disagreements, conflicts, and performance concerns in the workplace occur, we are committed to open discussions conducted in a respectful and productive manner to support the success of PSU and our staff, faculty, and administrators. We are guided in these interactions by:

  • Employee position descriptions and performance evaluation standards;
  • University Professional Standards of Conduct; 
  • Specific guidelines and expectations established by each department. 

The Communication & Problem-Solving for Employees page can direct you to available resources.

If a student employee is demonstrating workplace conflict or performance challenges, supervisors are encouraged to discuss the concerns directly with the student employee as the first step to solving the concerns. Such discussions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Clarification of policies and procedures
  • Delivery of performance feedback
  • Restating or modifying goals
  • Additional training
  • Establishing a corrective action plan

If a supervisor would like guidance or coaching to prepare for a conversation, HR staff members are available to provide assistance. To schedule an appointment or speak with an Employee Relations representative, please call 503.725.4926, and you will be connected to an appropriate HR staff member.

Employment-At-Will

Student employees at PSU are “at will” employees.  This means that either the student employee or the University may terminate employment without notice, at any time, and for any reason not prohibited by law. 

  • Supervisors should consult Human Resources regarding un-willful terminations. 
  • A supervisor of a student employee may not change the “at-will” nature of the employment relationship. 

    Please note: Supervisors may not terminate or otherwise adversely affect the employment of its employees, including student employees, on the basis of a protected classification (e.g., because of the employee’s race, color, national origin, sex, religion, sexual orientation, among others) or for reporting the employer’s illegal conduct. 

    Supervisors are required to participate in the Learning Module “Creating a Culture of Respect: Preventing Prohibited Discrimination and Harassment,”.  Supervisors should be mindful about the acceptable practices for ending the employment relationship with student employees in a professional manner.  See section “What Happens if it Doesn’t Work Out” for further information, or contact Human Resources.

    Separation of Employment

    Supervisors should discuss a student employee separation with their immediate manager and with an HR Employee Relations representative before taking any steps to end a student employee's employment. Student employee separations should be handled in a professional and respectful manner. This may be the last opportunity for the supervisor to foster a learning experience for the student employee by speaking plainly and sensitively about the reasons for the separation. 

    Human Resources provides an exit checklist to guide supervisors through the logistics of this process: www.pdx.edu/hr/separating-employees. The Checklist includes steps to coordinate the return of university property, removal of access, and other actions including:

    • Final pay requirements (also found on the Wage & Hour Laws page)
    • Collecting keys, equipment, ID, access cards, and supplies
    • Discontinuing or transferring systems access
    • Removing website references
    • Verifying that all reimbursement funds due to the employee have been issued
    • All electronic and paper files are turned in or shared with the supervisor