NAPE member Michelle Sides faced a workplace nightmare when a DHHS client began harassing her. The client left more than 100 threatening messages on her work phone, and Michelle was scared. After her managers developed a safety plan, Michelle still felt unsafe and wanted an order of protection. In order to obtain a court order, Michelle needed the full contact information of the client. She obtained the needed information from the NFOCUS system, and a Douglas County judge granted the order.
DHHS terminated Michelle’s employment, alleging she violated the client’s confidentiality when she accessed the client’s contact information in NFOCUS. As a NAPE member, Michelle had access to NAPE’s legal services at no charge, and NAPE vigorously defended Michelle through a hearing before the State Personnel Board.
The hearing officer found that while Michelle should not have used the NFOCUS system to access the information, she took actions to protect herself and her family, and that the information accessed was not necessarily confidential. The hearing officer ordered Michelle reinstated with full back pay and benefits. Michelle’s case dragged on for over a year, and the sizable financial award was a just conclusion to the case.
If you find yourself in a situation where you might be disciplined, contact us right away. A major benefit of NAPE membership is access to our professional staff and legal services in situations where your livelihood is on the line.