NAPE/AFSCME member Mike Andrews, a Motor Vehicle Examiner for the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), prevailed in a grievance challenging an unsatisfactory 2022 performance evaluation.
Mike was never disciplined for his performance at any time during 2022, and he never received any feedback that his performance was unsatisfactory. Because he didn’t receive this crucial feedback, he wasn’t afforded the opportunity to improve.
“My evaluation didn’t sit well with me, and I didn’t wait very long to call NAPE,” he said.
NAPE/AFSCME argued that the DMV violated our union contract by rating Mike unsatisfactorily without having made him aware of any shortcomings throughout the year. Additionally, the Customer Focus/Service section that caused Mike’s evaluation to be unsatisfactory was not in SMART goal format as required by our union contract.
“Initially I was a little discouraged because I wasn’t sure how much recourse we had. But then my union representative, Ryan Lawrence, really dug into it and said that we could grieve based on the fact that they didn’t provide me any feedback,” Mike said. “I’m glad Ryan decided to pursue that route because it was frustrating to me that I got hit with this bad evaluation without ever being told that my performance was lacking.”
Our union contract ensures that agencies must communicate performance feedback early, often, and appropriately. The DMV did not do so for Mike.
Even though this violated our union contract, Mike wasn’t confident that he would prevail.
“I was shocked when Ryan called me. I think we both were,” he said. “He had been great about managing my expectations. I really wasn’t sure it would go our way.”
To be made whole, Mike’s performance evaluation was changed to satisfactory for the calendar year 2022, and Mike received a two-step salary increase retroactive to July 1.
Mike didn’t expect that something like this would happen to him, especially since he wasn’t aware that his supervisor thought his performance was lacking.
“My advice to anyone who isn’t sure about whether they’ve been meeting their performance expectations is to ask their supervisor and document everything,” he said. “Communicate via email, start a journal or a log, and if they refuse to have these conversations, document that in an email as well.”
Mike made the right decision by reaching out to his NAPE/AFSCME representative right away.
“It can happen to anyone no matter how great they think they’re doing. I’m very lucky I had the union behind me,” he said. “You guys really take care of us. The union fought relentlessly for me and it was really amazing.”
If you need clarification about what to do if your performance expectations are unclear, watch this short video about how to effectively communicate with your supervisor about it.