CFS Specialist Lacy Dye was terminated by the Department of Health and Human Services in March 2019 for allegedly violating confidentiality after sharing information with a colleague regarding an error that she discovered in the NFOCUS database. Lacy immediately contacted NAPE for assistance, and a grievance was filed on her behalf challenging the termination.
The case proceeded to a hearing before the Nebraska State Personnel Board, where NAPE argued that Lacy did not violate confidentiality because the colleague she shared the information with also had access to the information. Further, NAPE argued that our contract requires disciplinary action to be progressive in nature and consistent with the severity of the alleged offense.
The hearing officer appointed by the State Personnel Board agreed with NAPE’s argument, and recommended that Lacy be reinstated with back pay and benefits and receive a written warning for inefficiency in reporting the NFOCUS error. The State Personnel Board met in January 2020, and affirmed the hearing officer’s recommendation.
DHHS, however, filed a motion in March with the Personnel Board to vacate its decision. In part, the agency argued that Lacy was on initial probation at the time the grievance was filed, therefore, the entire grievance action should be negated. NAPE responded that not only did Lacy’s supervisor testify at hearing that Lacy was not on initial probation, but that DHHS has no legal standing to file such a motion with the Personnel Board. The law requires appeals from the Personnel Board by filed in the District Court of Lancaster County within 30 days of the Board’s decision.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Personnel Board did not meet again until summer. When it did reconvene, it rejected DHHS’ motion and affirmed its decision to reinstate Lacy with back pay and benefits. By continuing to challenge the original decision, DHHS owed Lacy 18 months of back pay by the time she was reinstated. If you find yourself in a disciplinary situation, do not meet with management without a representative present. Be sure to contact us right away for advice and assistance.