NAPE/AFSCME Member Veronica Yebra is a Child/Family Services Specialist in South Sioux City. In April, Veronica attended a Safety Organized Practice training with several of her CFS colleagues. During the training, employees were encouraged to openly discuss their workplace environment, including how to address concerns and improve relationships among colleagues at the workplace.
Veronica actively participated in the training, but was shocked when weeks later, she received a Notice of Allegations for comments she made during the training. The Notice contained a complaint from supervisors at the training alleging that Veronica and two of her coworkers made inappropriate and negative comments about another colleague at her office that was not present at the training. However, Veronica’s comments were not inappropriate, and were specifically in response to questions she was asked to discuss. After a pre-disciplinary meeting, Veronica was disciplined with a written warning for the alleged offenses. Her two coworkers named in the complaint were not disciplined in any way for the same alleged offense.
Veronica reached out to NAPE, and a grievance was soon filed on her behalf. The grievance argued that there was no just cause for discipline, since she was specifically asked to discuss the workplace environment. In addition, the grievance alleged that the disciplinary action was applied unevenly, since Veronica’s two coworkers were not disciplined for the same alleged offense.
After a hearing was held, a hearing officer found that there was no just cause for discipline based on Veronica’s comments at the training. The written warning was removed from her personnel file. NAPE/AFSCME members should never be disciplined for their comments when a supervisor specifically asks for their input or feedback. Our union contract requires that discipline can only be imposed for just cause and must be applied evenly. If you believe that you’ve been disciplined unfairly, reach out to NAPE right away for help.