Tami Krontz is an 18 year veteran state employee. Most of her career was spent as a pharmacy technician at the Lincoln Regional Center. In 2018, while fighting cancer, Tami was demoted from her pharmacy tech position, into the position of food service cook. Tami had no experience as a cook, and her battle with cancer precluded her from working in a kitchen. Tami immediately contacted her union steward, Christian Sawyer. Christian helped Tami challenge the decision to place her in the cook position.
Without any communication, LRC management transferred Tami into the position of custodian, and then terminated her employment for being unable to perform the duties of custodian. Christian alerted HR that he would be present for Tami’s pre-disciplinary hearing and asked for dates to coordinate the meeting with all parties. The HR manager never responded to Christian, and a pre-disciplinary meeting was held without Tami or a representative present.
Immediately after being terminated, Tami filed a grievance challenging her termination. The grievance alleged that DHHS discriminated against Tami due to her illness when it demoted her into a position it knew she could not perform, and that DHHS violated due process by holding a pre-disciplinary meeting without a representative present.
DHHS denied the grievance, and a hearing officer at the DAS Employee Relations Division affirmed the decision. NAPE appealed that decision to arbitration, and the arbitrator ruled in Tami’s favor. The arbitrator found that DHHS discriminated against Tami because it did not make an attempt to reasonably accommodate her. The arbitrator was also critical of the HR department for not making even the most basic effort to communicate with Tami’s union steward.
Tami was reinstated, and the agency now must make a reasonable attempt to accommodate her. “I’m so thankful for all the support from NAPE,” Tami said. “Without the support of my union, DHHS would have gotten away with treating me horribly. I don’t want to see another worker punished for their disabilities.” NAPE Executive Director Justin Hubly represented Tami in the arbitration hearing and said, “We are very pleased with the outcome, and we’re glad the arbitrator was able to see the mistreatment Tami dealt with. This is why NAPE fights back and isn’t afraid to appeal decisions. An injury to one is an injury to all.”