Can Faculty Supervise Classified?

As a classified professional, what or who determines the work you are supposed to do? This question surprisingly comes up rather often. There are several factors that play into the work done by classified professionals.  The primary guide is your job description.  The work you were hired to do is outlined in the “Essential Duties” part of the job description.  These are the main duties that you were hired to perform and must be done.

A manager’s job is, among several things, to give you direction as to what work to do, to prioritize your work, and to ensure operational needs of the department are met.  However, when there are classified professionals working in classrooms or laboratory settings with faculty, faculty often ask the classified staff to perform duties.  Inevitably, the question comes up, “Can faculty supervise classified?”

The short answer is No.  However, faculty can ask classified staff to perform duties within the job description if that work is necessary for instruction to take place.  For example, a lab tech in a chemistry lab must ensure the classroom is safe, that equipment is running properly, that necessary chemicals and solvents are stocked and available, and other duties.  If faculty are preparing a demonstration, they can ask the classified lab tech to “prep the room” for the demonstration.  That is perfectly fine.

Are faculty supervisors?

Are faculty supervisors?

Doing that is not “supervising,” however.  The word “supervise” has a very specific meaning.  A “supervisor” is someone with authority to hire, discipline, evaluate, set work schedules, approve vacation and other leaves, approve time sheets, and more.  Faculty can do none of these things.  Sometimes managers ask a lab tech to “check with the faculty” when asking for time off.  Checking with faculty is the manager’s responsibility.  Faculty might just say “No” because they need you the day you need to take off.  Your manager, however, can find another lab tech to replace you and shuffle classified staff around to enable you to take the day off.  Faculty are not authorized to do that.

For these same reasons, classified staff are also not authorized to “supervise” either, including hourly or student workers.  Classified staff can ensure hourly or student workers are getting their work done, but they cannot do any work considered supervisory, including hire, evaluate, approve time off, sign time sheets, or any other supervisory duty.  Classified can participate in hiring, can provide the manager with evaluative input, or can report to the manager if work is not getting done.  In short, classified can only discuss issues with the manager.  Sometimes managers want the classified staff to perform these supervisory duties.  You have the right to respectfully decline, stating these are supervisory duties that you are not authorized to perform.  Here’s why.

On more than one occasion, classified staff have performed supervisory duties over student employees.  In one case, the classified staff member was not happy with the work the student was doing and so terminated that student.  The student then filed a complaint in Human Resources for unlawful termination, which was upheld by HR.  As a result, the classified staff member received disciplinary action.  CSEA’s recommendation to all classified staff, do not supervise anyone!

If you are ever asked to perform supervisory duties by a manager, don’t argue with the manager.  Don’t refuse.  Immediately contact your chief steward or anyone on the Executive Board for advice.  CSEA can communicate with the manager and/or HR and resolve the issue.