Certified Master Social Worker, and NAPE member, Melissa Kramer was not allowed to work her scheduled shift at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic began. Melissa had just visited a family member in the hospital, which was unrelated to COVID-19 or the pandemic.
Melissa’s supervisor contacted the Corrections Medical Director, who determined that Melissa would not be allowed to work her shift for two days. Information about quarantine recommendations and testing was minimal at the time. The Medical Director did not speak to, or examine, Melissa, nor did he do any investigation into the facts surrounding Melissa’s visit to her family member. Had he investigated more, he would have learned that Melissa never came in contact with anyone with COVID-19. Melissa never should have been denied the opportunity to work her shift as scheduled.
Melissa was directed to use vacation time in order to cover the absence. As the absence was prior to April 1 when NAPE negotiated additional COVID-19 emergency leave, NDCS refused to change the leave to COVID leave, and refused to change the leave to administrative leave. NAPE filed a grievance on Melissa’s behalf, and shortly before the case was slated for a hearing before the Nebraska State Personnel Board, the Department of Corrections agreed to settle the case and returned Melissa’s vacation time.
Melissa became a NAPE member after attending one of our informational Zoom webinars as the pandemic was unfolding. Melissa said, “I appreciated how much support and information NAPE offered to both members and non-members, and I joined because I wanted to be part of the organization that does such a great job supporting public employees.”
If you find yourself in a situation where management requires you to use earned vacation leave and you do not think you should use the leave, contact NAPE right away. The steps you take before your leave is deducted is important to our ability to assist you in getting leave reinstated.