Animal Care Investigatory and Disciplinary Standards

Animal Care Investigatory and Disciplinary Standards

Functional Owner

Office of Human Resources

Executive Sponsor

Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Policy

Policy Contact

Director, Office of Workforce Relations

Policy Summary

The purpose of these standards is to clarify for UW–Madison employees the communication and notification procedures, investigation requirements, and corrective disciplinary action guidelines for issues related to the care and use of animals.

Who This Policy Applies To

Investigation and communication responsibilities and other tools apply to all employees whose duties involve animal care. These investigation and communication responsibilities apply to positions including, but not limited to, supervisors, managers, human resources representatives, Animal Care and Use Committee members, and those who supervise or otherwise manage the activities of employees whose duties involve animal care or use. Disciplinary consequences outlined in this policy apply to all non-Faculty employees whose duties involve animal care or use.

Rationale

This policy was developed in order to clarify the expectations and responsibilities of UW–Madison employees involved in the care or use of animals.

Policy Detail

  1. Investigation and Notification
    1. Activities to Investigate. Managers and supervisors (including principal investigators) must always investigate the following activities:
      1. Any workplace injury or violence to persons or animals;
      2. Violations of work rules, standard operating procedures (SOPs), policies, or laws pertaining to animal care or use;
      3. Allegations of criminal conduct in the workplace pertaining to animal care or use;
      4. Any incident reportable to the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), or the Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC);
      5. Any allegation of animal neglect, abuse, mistreatment, or death.
    2. Duty to Investigate. Managers and supervisors (including principal investigators) have a professional responsibility to investigate all credible complaints or reported instances of the activities listed in subsection (a) of this section. Failure to initiate an investigation, or to competently and thoroughly investigate a credible complaint or allegation, may result in discipline of the supervisor or manager, up to and including discharge.
    3. Conducting the Investigation.
      1. In all cases, the investigator should conduct his or her investigation in a timely manner after management learns of the reported situation. The investigation must be timely both in terms of initiation from the point at which management had knowledge of the allegation, and in terms of duration. The investigator must provide a reasonable and credible explanation for any delay.
      2. The investigation must include interviews with all individuals who may have been witnesses to the incident or the result of the incident. In addition to the interview, the supervisor/manager should request written statements from the witnesses or actors. Alternatively, the supervisor/manager can take notes of the interviews and ask each witness to sign the final/typed notes. The supervisor/manager is advised to conduct the interviews promptly and all on the same day, if possible, to increase the likelihood of obtaining the most accurate first-hand information. (For additional information, refer to instructions on conducting Workplace Investigations.)
    4. Employee Obligation to Notify. All employees have the obligation to report observed incidences of employee misconduct or mistreatment involving animals to their supervisor or manager. An employee’s failure to report observed animal neglect, abuse, mistreatment, or death may result in the employee’s discipline, up to and including discharge.
    5. Supervisor and Manager Obligation to Notify. Supervisors and managers have the obligation to notify their division human resources representatives of all instances of employee misconduct pertaining to animal care or use that could warrant performance management actions or result in discipline in the workplace. Supervisors and managers also must notify ACUC committees of any conduct which does or may endanger animal welfare. Therefore, in instances of potential animal neglect, abuse, mistreatment, or death, the supervisor or manager must inform the human resources representative, as well as the attending veterinarian, facility supervisor, and ACUC chair, of the investigation.
    6. When to Notify HR. All allegations of employee misconduct should first be brought by the employee to the first-line supervisor or manager, who will then notify the division HR representative. The division HR representative, in conjunction with the supervisor or manager, will determine the appropriate investigatory and disciplinary action. If the misconduct includes allegations or the investigation of animal mistreatment, the division HR representative will notify the Office of Human Resources(OHR), and the supervisor/manager will notify the facility manager or senior program veterinarian and the ACUC, of the incident and action taken (e.g. investigation, administrative leave, etc.).
    7. When to Notify ACUC. The supervisor/manager, senior program veterinarian, or facility manager must notify ACUC committees of all incidents of potential harm to animals in addition to occurrences of animal neglect, abuse, mistreatment, or death resulting from employee misconduct or any other incidents reportable to OLAW. The report must include whether the employee has been previously reported to an ACUC committee and/or disciplined for animal care misconduct.
  2. ACUC Authority
    1. ACUC Actions. The school or college ACUC or senior program veterinarians may take action in addition to any disciplinary action implemented by the division HR representative or supervisor, or the ACUC or senior program veterinarians may take action in the absence of disciplinary action being taken by the division HR representative or supervisor. Potential ACUC actions include but are not limited to:
      1. Retraining,
      2. Suspension of animal handling privileges, and
      3. Termination of animal handling privileges.
    2. Animal Treatment Policies. For more information regarding the ACUC authority to address employee treatment of animals at UW–Madison, please see the Research Animal Resources Center (RARC) All Campus Animal Planning and Advisory Committee (ACAPAC) policies 1999-008 (Policy on protocol Non-Compliance) and 2003-023 (Handling and Treatment of Animals).
  3. Termination
    1. Categories of Behavior that May Result in Termination. All potential disciplinary action must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by analyzing the factors identified in subsection (c) of this section, and by taking into consideration the unique circumstances surrounding the specific employee’s conduct and employment history. Disciplinary decisions must be based on just-cause principles, and the employee must be provided with due process.
    2. Examples of Conduct. Examples of conduct that may result in termination include, but are not limited to:
      1. Intentional physical or psychological mistreatment of animals. Examples include but are not limited to:
        1. Deliberately injuring or neglecting an animal,
        2. Teasing, taunting, or deliberately scaring an animal,
        3. Unnecessarily shaking a box of rodents,
        4. Unnecessarily tapping a cage of mice to see them run or make them squeal,
        5. Unnecessarily staring directly at a macaque,
        6. Purposefully spraying a macaque with water from a hose,
        7. Use of unnecessary force, or
        8. Purposeful deviation from protocol to create animal discomfort;
      2. Intentional or reckless conduct resulting in potential harm to research or the safety or welfare of animals or employees, such as purposeful disregard for SOPs and/or policies related to the safety and welfare of animals or employees;
      3. Falsification or fabrication of research or animal care documentation; animal neglect or mistreatment which causes unnecessary repetition of animal testing and/or significant financial expenditure;
      4. A repeated instance of identical or substantially similar conduct that previously resulted in discipline, retraining, or revocation of animal handling privileges with a warning that repeated misconduct may result in termination;
      5. Failure to follow a policy, procedure, or law that is the last step in the progressive discipline for the employee.
    3. Factors for Consideration. Factors that should be considered when determining whether termination is appropriate include:
      1. Whether the misconduct by the employee is habitual, the employee is accident prone, or the employee is likely to repeat the alleged act or omission;
      2. The attitude of the employee;
      3. The actual injury or damage sustained to animals, persons, property, or research;
      4. The potential injury or damage that could have resulted from the act or omission; and
      5. The effect of the act or omission on co-workers, research collaborators, or customers of the university.
    4. HR Action. If an employee is terminated for the reasons described in this section, a letter with language barring the employee from accepting future employment with UW–Madison where contact with animals may occur will be provided to the employee and placed in the employee’s personnel file.
  4. Discipline
    1. Categories of Behavior that May Result in Discipline. All potential disciplinary actions must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by analyzing the factors identified below and taking into consideration the unique circumstances surrounding the specific employee’s conduct and employment history. Disciplinary decisions must be based on just-cause principles, and the employee must be provided with due process. Examples of conduct that may potentially result in discipline less than termination are:
      1. Failure to follow a policy, procedure, or law relating to animal care or use which:
        1. Did not result in death or injury to animals,
        2. Did not significantly/adversely impact animal research, or
        3. Is not the final step in the progressive discipline process for the employee;
      2. Conduct that may have otherwise resulted in termination that was mitigated by factors regarding the employee’s willfulness or intention, such as an employee expressing sincere remorse for conduct that may have otherwise resulted in discipline or termination.
    2. Range of Misconduct. A broad range of other misconduct, not rising to the level of termination, can lead to discipline.
    3. Factors for Consideration. Factors that should be considered when determining whether discipline is appropriate include:
      1. The potential injury or damage that could have resulted from the act or omission;
      2. The actual injury or damage sustained to animals, persons, property, or research;
      3. The reasonableness of the act or omission under the circumstances;
      4. The effect of the act or omission on co-workers, research collaborators, or customers of the university;
      5. Whether the employee had received training and was capable of performing his or her job duties; and
      6. Whether the employee knew or should have known of the disciplinary consequences of the act or omission.
    4. HR Action.
      1. Disciplinary options include but are not limited to:
        1. Written reprimands,
        2. One-, three-, and five-day suspensions, and
        3. Dismissal.
      2. Disciplinary steps may be skipped, i.e., human resources may skip the written reprimand and move directly to a one-day suspension if the weight of the evidence supports a determination that the employee’s conduct warrants more severe discipline.
      3. The Academic Staff Policies and Procedures (ASPP) do not require progressive discipline.
      4. As appropriate, the division HR representative shall notify the attending veterinarian, facility manager/supervisor, and ACUC chair about the outcome of the investigation and the disciplinary action taken.
  5. Communication
    1. ACUC committees that are considering employee retraining, or the suspension or termination of animal handling privileges, due to workplace misconduct are encouraged to invite the division HR representative to the relevant portion of the ACUC meeting.
    2. All suspension or termination actions made by the ACUC or attending veterinarian should be communicated by the committee to the employee’s division HR representative.

Consequences for Non-Compliance

Failure to comply with this policy may result in action ranging from retraining to termination of animal handling privileges and/or disciplinary action, up to and including discharge.

Supporting Tools

Hiring Process Checklist

Termination Checklist

Sample Animal Care-Worker Appointment Letter

Sample Animal Care-Related Violation Termination Letter

Definitions

Standard operating procedures (SOPs): detailed, written instructions used to achieve uniformity of the performance of a specific function.

OLAW: Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare.

USDA: United States Department of Agriculture.

ACUC: Animal Care and Use Committee.

Responsibilities

Office of Human Resources (OHR)
  • Serves as the campus expert regarding investigations and employee discipline
  • Serves as a resource in these activities and supports divisional human resource staff in ensuring compliance with this policy
Divisional Human Resources
  • Supports compliance with this policy by working with supervisors and managers to ensure that employees understand and are able to implement policies and procedures relevant to their duties and responsibilities
  • Responsible for ensuring that investigations and disciplinary action taken by managers and supervisors is in compliance with this policy
Supervisor or Manager in animal care and use facility
  • Monitors and responds appropriately to workplace behaviors potentially endangering employee or animal welfare and safety
  • Assists in conducting thorough investigations
  • Are familiar with this policy
  • Seeks guidance and assistance from appropriate resources in order to comply with relevant policies as necessary
Employee in animal care and use facility
  • Understands and complies with this policy
  • Seeks guidance and assistance from appropriate resources in order to comply with relevant policies as necessary

Link to Current Policy

https://kb.wisc.edu/ohr/policies/page.php?id=60310

Links to Related Policies

Corrective Progressive Discipline for University Staff

ASPP Chapter 6: Corrective Progressive Discipline for Academic Staff




Keywords:animal, discipline, disciplinary, standards, investigation, investigatory, conduct, ACUC, USDA, OLAW   Doc ID:60310
Owner:OHR .Group:HR Policies
Created:2016-01-29 15:58 CDTUpdated:2016-06-07 14:55 CDT
Sites:HR Policies
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