The NAPE contract clearly allows state employees to use earned sick leave for any diagnosed illness. It came as a shock to 42 year veteran DHHS DD Service Coordinator Sue Strnad when the agency terminated her employment after she was diagnosed with cancer despite having over 3,000 hours of earned sick leave available for her use. The agency stated that she was unable to perform the essential functions of her job, and terminated her employment while she was in the hospital fighting cancer, taking away her desperately needed insurance coverage.
As a NAPE member, Sue contacted her steward, Paul Farrand, and a grievance was filed on her behalf demanding her reinstatement, retroactive pay, and reimbursement for medical costs for the period from her improper termination to her reinstatement.
NAPE successfully prevailed in the grievance and Sue was reinstated and awarded retroactive pay and benefits. “I’m so thankful for the support of NAPE! Without the help of Paul and NAPE Contract Administrator Rene Botts, I would have been forced to deal with a horrible situation on my own and without their expertise. It’s great to know the union fights for us and wins.”
While Sue’s case had a positive outcome, the actions of DHHS are troubling. There is a concerted effort by the agency to terminate employees who are ill but still have sick leave available for their use. NAPE has additional pending grievances on behalf of two other members in a similar situation. If you hear of anyone who may have been terminated without cause due to illness, contact the NAPE office at 402-486-3911 right away. We’re here to help!
Sue remains on medical leave and is battling a difficult illness. If you would like to write Sue a note of encouragement, you can send it to Sue Strnad, c/o NAPE/AFSCME Local 61, 770 N. Cotner Blvd. Suite 403, Lincoln, NE 68505. We will deliver cards to Sue before Christmas.