HU tries to define at-will employees

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By David Giuliani

Las Vegas Optic


Highlands University’s administration is proposing to change the school’s personnel policy to define those who aren’t covered by the usual employee protections. 


Those not getting normal protections are known as exempt employees — who are appointed and fired at will. 


At a recent Board of Regents meeting, university officials proposed that exempt employees consist of those who report to the president such as the dean of students and the vice president of finance and those who report to those sub-officials. 


Some of the regents were concerned. 


Regent Jesus Lopez said it may be hard to define who are exempt employees.


“From day to day, you could change the (organizational) chart. How do we define who reports directly to any of the chief executives?” he said. 


Regents Chairman Leveo Sanchez agreed.


“As a former bureaucrat, my concern is the open-endedness. You can always expand the number of individuals who report,” he said. 


Highlands President Jim Fries said the president approves all changes to the organizational chart. 


“Is there an opportunity for game playing? I suppose there is. It’s really unlikely. If you change reporting status to affect disciplinary actions, that will be challenged and have potential legal consequences,” he said.


He added that the university needed flexibility to change the organizational structure for “legitimate operational reasons.”


Regents agreed that the wording of the proposed policy needed to be changed, with Lopez joking that it needed to be cleared by the university’s English department.