Administrative Services

EMPLOYEE RELATIONS

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Nebraska State Personnel Board Decisions

The following State Personnel Board Decisions regarding employee grievances have been summarized for informational use only.

2006

Numa Novoa v. Department of Health and Human Services: (NAPE) Numa Novoa filed a grievance after the Department of Health and Human Services terminated his employment. The parties agreed upon and the State Personnel Board designated William Morris as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Appellant was disciplined in the form of termination after an audit of his case files discovered many errors.The Appellant claims that until the date of his termination, he was told by his supervisors that he was doing a good job.

The Hearing Officer found that Mr. Novoa was not given the opportunity to correct his mistakes and that the department failed to prove by the greater weight of the evidence that it imposed discipline for just cause, recognizing and employing progressive discipline.He recommended that Mr. Novoa be reinstated either in his previous position or to substantially the same job in a different unit, with back pay.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision to reinstate the Appellant.

The Respondent appealed this decision to District Court, and the matter was settled and dismissed.

John Strizek v. Department of Administrative Services: (NAPE) John Strizek filed a grievance after the Department of Administrative Services terminated his employment. The parties agreed upon and the State Personnel Board designated, William Morris as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent charged the Appellant with disciplinary infractions for failing to call in to work after a functional capacity evaluation that took place outside of the office, and for failing to follow a directive to cover for another employee while she went to lunch.

The Hearing Officer found that the department proved by the greater weight of the evidence, that Mr. Strizek was a problem employee with an 8 month history of disciplinary infractions, was not truthful, was negligent and did not cover his fellow employee as directed.The Hearing Officer also found that the department proved by the greater weight of the evidence that it terminated the Appellant’s employment in good faith, for just cause, and in accordance with the principles of progressive discipline.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision to uphold the termination of the Appellant.

Patty Jensen v. Department of Health and Human Services: (NAPE) Patty Jensen filed a grievance after the Department of Health and Human Services terminated her employment. The parties agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated William Morris as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent alleged mental and verbal abuse of two members living in a Veteran’s home. The Appellant denied the allegations.

The Hearing Officer found that the Appellant committed a negligent act of abuse and neglect on one of the alleged victims.The Hearing Officer also found that the department proved by the greater weight of the evidence that it terminated the Appellant’s employment in good faith, for just cause, and in accordance with the principles of progressive discipline and that the termination should remain in effect.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision to uphold the termination of the Appellant.

Teresa Sukup v. Department of Health and Human Services: (NAPE) Teresa Sukup filed a grievance after the Department of Health and Human Services terminated her employment. The parties agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, C. Thomas White as hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent alleged patient abuse and neglect. The Appellant denied the allegations, claiming the injury of the patient was an accident.

The Hearing Officer found that the discipline imposed on the Appellant in the form of termination was not imposed in good faith, for cause and did not represent the application of the principal of progressive discipline.He recommended that the Appellant be reinstated, without back pay or benefits.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision to reinstate the Appellant without back pay or benefits.

Eric Williams v. Department of Health and Human Services: (NAPE) Eric Williams filed a grievance after the Department of Health and Human Services terminated his employment. The parties agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, William Morris as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent alleged abuse and neglect; allegedly, the Appellant did not do room checks as required, and he allowed a client under his care to escape. The Appellant claims that his co-worker was responsible for room checks as well and that he was supervising the floor alone for long periods of time.

The Hearing Officer found that the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services failed to prove by the greater weight of evidence that it imposed discipline for just cause. The Hearing Officer recommended that the Appellant be reinstated, and that he be awarded back pay from the time of his termination to the time of reinstatement.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision to reinstate the employee with back pay, and the appeal was upheld.

The Respondent appealed this decision to District Court. The District Court reversed the decision of the State Personnel Board.Eric Williams appealed to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the District Court, which reversed the State Personnel Board’s decision. The Court of Appeals found that good cause existed to terminate William’s employment.

Warren Groves, et. al. v. Department of Roads: (NAPE) Warren Groves, Robert Drake, Rick Springer, and Brock Swedburg filed this grievance after the Department of Roads removed them from their assigned work positions and had them transferred.The parties mutually agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, John P. Glynn, Jr. as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent filed a Motion to Dismiss claiming that the appeal was not timely filed. The Appellants claimed that it was filed within the guidelines of the Labor Contract.

The Hearing Officer found that the evidence presented proved that the grievance was not timely filed at the first step and that the appeal should be dismissed.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision and the appeal was dismissed.

Geoffrey Davis v. Department of Correctional Services #8 & #9: (NAPE) Geoffrey Davis filed two grievances after the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) disciplined him with a demotion from corporal to officer. The parties mutually agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, Samuel Van Pelt as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and the State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Appellant claimed that DCS could not use previous discipline that was requested to be removed from his personnel file to determine his level of discipline.He also claimed that the accusations made by the department regarding his inattentiveness of inmates, and irritating the inmates, with verbal comments and gestures, were unfounded. The Respondent claimed that the Appellant did not request the previous discipline be removed from his file until after the discipline took place, but before the appeal process.The Respondent also claims that the Appellant did, in fact, make the comments and gestures to the inmates in question and that the irritated inmates were jeopardizing the safety of the institution.

The Hearing Officer found that the Personnel Board must consider everything that was legitimately before the decision makers when they made their decisions and that the previous disciplines will be considered in determining whether the action of demotion from corporal to officer was for just cause and in good faith. The Hearing Officer also found that the actions taken by the department in each appeal of the demotion of Geoffrey Davis from corporal to officer, did not violate the terms of the existing labor contract, and were taken for just cause and in good faith. The Hearing Officer recommended that appeal #8 and #9 of Geoffrey Davis be dismissed and that the discipline imposed be affirmed and remain in full force and effect.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision and the appeals were dismissed.

The Appellant appealed the decision to District Court and the matter was dismissed.

Geoffrey Davis v. Department of Correctional Services #10 & #11: (NAPE) Geoffrey Davis filed two separate grievances that relate to the same facts and issue in regard to compensatory time. The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) filed a Motion to Dismiss in both cases. The parties mutually agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, Samuel Van Pelt as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005- 2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent claims that the grievance form for appeal #10 was altered by the Appellant between Steps 1 and 2 and also claimed that the relief requested for appeal #11 had previously been granted. The Appellant denied altering the form of grievance #10 and claims that he was not compensated correctly for grievance #11.

The Hearing Officer found that the department proved that grievance form #10 had, in fact, been altered, and therefore, made the issue moot. Relief was previously granted in grievance #11 by the department and no other remedy could be offered to the Appellant. The Hearing Officer recommended that the department’s Motion to Dismiss be granted and both grievances be dismissed.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision and both grievances were dismissed.

Jeffrey Hoyle v. Department of Correctional Services #3: (NAPE) Jeffrey Hoyle filed a grievance when the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) terminated him. The parties mutually agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, Paul Caffera as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent alleged that the Appellant disobeyed an order, was insubordinate and shut down the Department’s electronic communication system. The Appellant claimed that he did shut down one of the servers remotely from his home; but that the second server was still running and that there were no disruptions in the department’s system.

The Hearing Officer found that the department met its burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the department’s decision to terminate the Appellant, for accessing the department’s computer system- despite clear orders to avoid doing so, met the contractual just cause standard. The Hearing Officer recommended that the termination be sustained.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision and the termination was sustained.

Jeffrey Hoyle v. Department of Correctional Services #2: (NAPE) Jeffrey Hoyle filed a grievance when the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) terminated him. The parties mutually agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, Paul Caffera as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent alleged that the Appellant refused to cooperate in an internal administrative investigation. The Appellant claimed that he felt he was facing a criminal probe into his workplace actions.

The Hearing Officer found that the department failed to meet its burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the department’s decision to terminate the Appellant, for failing to cooperate with an administrative investigation, met the contractual just cause standard. The Hearing Officer recommended that the termination be overturned.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision and the termination was overturned.

Jeffrey Hoyle v. Department of Correctional Services #1: (NAPE) Jeffrey Hoyle filed a grievance when the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) disciplined him with a five-day suspension without pay. The parties mutually agreed upon, and the State Personnel Board designated, Paul Caffera as Hearing Officer, and the hearing was held in accordance with the 2005-2007 NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, and State of Nebraska Labor Contract. The Respondent alleged that the State computer that was used by the Appellant contained inappropriate images that were allegedly downloaded by the Appellant. The Appellant claimed that the images were placed on his hard drive inadvertently as he was attempting to block pop-up screens for other employees within the department.

The Hearing Officer found that the department failed to meet its burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the department’s decision to suspend the Appellant for five-days without pay, met the contractual just cause standard. The Hearing Officer recommended that the discipline of the five day suspension without pay be overturned.

The State Personnel Board accepted the recommended decision and the five-day suspension was overturned.