Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

NAPE Prepares for Court Hearing Over DHHS Dress Code

DHHS CEO Dannette Smith violates her own dress code by wearing a hat while testifying before the Nebraska Legislature in February 2021

The DHHS dress code saga continues on as the one year anniversary of the dress code changes passed us by in February. NAPE won its case in binding arbitration, after a grievance was filed challenging the unilateral changes to employee’s dress code requiring certain employees to wear business casual clothing. 

In late 2020, DHHS filed a lawsuit attempting to overturn the Arbitrator’s binding decision. In our response, NAPE’s attorney briefly set forth our argument that under Nebraska law, the Arbitrator’s decision is final and binding. Additionally, NAPE is asking the judge to declare the DHHS lawsuit frivolous and order DHHS to pay our legal fees for having to defend the frivolous action. 

Lancaster County District Court Judge Kevin McManaman has asked both parties for briefs regarding case law regarding the ability of a court to overturn an arbitrator’s binding decision, and he asked the parties to work on a stipulation of facts regarding the arbitration hearing. We expect this work to be completed in March, and the judge will then set a hearing date later in the spring. 

While the case is pending, our advice to members is to obey your supervisor if they require you to wear business casual clothing and allow the legal process to play out. While you could choose to ignore your supervisor, that is not our advice. If an employee were to be disciplined based on the dress code invalidated by the arbitrator, we would defend our members, however, we never advise our members to do something that might lead to discipline – even if we would prevail in the discipline process. We will continue to keep our members updated on the legal process.

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees