Teresa Morland has worked as a Child Support Enforcement Worker for the Department of Health and Human Services for over ten years and has worked for the State of Nebraska for over twenty years. Teresa has dedicated countless hours serving individuals in need of assistance and had never once been disciplined throughout her twenty year career. This past July, however, Teresa received a Notice of Allegations that accused her of accessing confidential information in a DHHS database system. Even though Teresa explained that she accessed the information to train new employees, DHHS decided to terminate her anyway claiming they had a “zero tolerance policy” for these types of allegations.
Teresa, who had been a union member for years, immediately contacted NAPE/AFSCME and got in touch with a Field Representative. A grievance was filed alleging the discipline imposed was not progressive, meaning a lesser form of disciplinary action would have been far more appropriate considering the nature and severity of Teresa’s alleged actions. NAPE representatives mounted a vigorous defense including obtaining disciplinary and other records to support Teresa’s case.
After a hearing was conducted, a Hearing Officer concluded that while there was cause for some discipline, the level imposed was too severe given the nature and severity of the action itself and Teresa’s flawless history within state service. This was reinforced by the fact that DHHS has not imposed discipline consistently amongst employees who committed the same infraction. Teresa was not only reinstated, but the Hearing Officer awarded full back wages and benefits. All of the time she had missed, all of the sick and vacation time she would have accrued, was given back to Teresa as if she had not missed a day. Teresa is now back in the office, serving those in need once again.
Teresa is an excellent employee who still found herself in a difficult situation at work. While these cases are rare, they do happen, and it’s important to know that NAPE/AFSCME members across the state have your back. If you are not a member already, please join us today. Remember to contact us immediately if you ever receive a Notice of Allegations or feel you’re headed towards a difficult situation. Strict deadlines apply, so do not wait to contact us.