NAPE member Delores Gladbach has dedicated her life to the citizens of Nebraska. For the past 42 years, Delores has worked as a Disability Determinations Examiner at the Nebraska Department of Education. In June 2021, Delores was given a Notice of Allegations, stating that her rate of work was too slow and she was not closing enough cases. Despite never being disciplined in her entire 42 years of service, the Department of Education terminated Delores’ employment in July.
This egregious decision from the Department of Education was shocking. Delores was well known as one of the most experienced and quality examiners in her department, reliably producing thorough and accurate disability determinations for Nebraskans over four decades. Additionally, there were numerous factors outside of her control that slowed the work of all Examiners, including the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects on the healthcare system, remote work, and a new processing system. Despite all this, the Department of Education still determined it was appropriate to terminate a dedicated 42-year veteran employee based solely on the arbitrary standard of processing speed.
Delores contacted NAPE right away, and a grievance was soon filed on her behalf. NAPE argued that there was no just cause for discipline because of the undisputed high quality of Delores’ work. Additionally, NAPE argued that progressive discipline was not followed as required by our negotiated contract. At hearing, Delores’ coworkers and other professionals she worked with testified to the high quality of her work and knowledge within the field. After the hearing, the hearing officer determined that there was no just cause for any discipline and progressive discipline was not followed. The hearing officer recommended Delores be reinstated to her position with full back wages and benefits, and the State Board of Education adopted this recommendation.
Cases like this can seem shocking, and are unfortunately more common than you might think. It was crucial that Delores was informed of her rights and reached out to NAPE for help from the very beginning of the disciplinary process. NAPE is dedicated to fighting for the disciplinary due process rights of our members and all state employees. If you find yourself in a similar situation, be sure to contact us right away.