NAPE member, and 19-year veteran of the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Diane Viher was taken to an alley outside the commission office in Sidney to meet with the NOGCC Director and Deputy Director. In the alley, the Director boldly said, “Diane, it’s time for you to retire.” Diane is not ready for retirement, and was caught off guard by the threat. She asked what would happen if she didn’t retire, and the Director responded, “Well, you can get your stuff.” In short, the Director was bullying her to leave and was willing to fire her if she didn’t retire as he demanded.
Our contract guarantees employees to a workplace free of bullying and harassing behavior. While harassment cases can be tough to prove, NAPE filed a grievance on behalf of Diane due to the egregious behavior of the NOGCC Director. The Director’s unprofessional behavior continued when he refused to respond to the grievance at Step 1 of the grievance process.
In the absence of a response, the grievance proceeded to Step 2, and an informal hearing before a DAS Employee Relations Hearing Officer was held. The Hearing Officer found the NOGCC Director’s behavior and remarks during the alley meeting were not appropriate. Putting pressure or bullying an employee to retire raises ethical and legal concerns, and in Diane’s case the Hearing Officer found, “the actual words exchanged were both inappropriate and threatening.” The NGOCC Director was ordered to cease and desist this bullying behavior.
NAPE members have rights and access to our professional staff to navigate these types of workplace issues. If you find yourself dealing with a difficult supervisor or bullying, harassing, and threatening behavior, contact us right away.