Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

Omaha Social Services Worker Prevails After Being Denied a Promotion

In early 2023, NAPE/AFSCME member Kimberly Skaggs applied for a promotion to Lead Social Services Worker with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Kimberly was one of eight employees interviewed to fill one of four vacant positions.

Three applicants who scored higher than the rest during their interviews were awarded positions. Kimberly and another applicant scored the next highest and scored substantially the same. Our NAPE/AFSCME union contract guarantees that in this situation, the more senior employee — in this case, Kimberly — is promoted. Instead, DHHS conducted a second round of interviews with only certain candidates, and a different applicant was selected to fill the remaining vacant position.

“I felt like the interview process and scoring methods are subjective,” Kimberly said. “How you’re scored depends on who is scoring you. Sometimes they give more points to one person despite other applicants having almost identical answers.”

This was Kimberly’s fourth time applying for a promotion, and being overlooked once again made her feel unappreciated. 

“Very early in my career, I was utilized extensively to train and mentor new hires. In order to do that, I had to have experience and advanced knowledge about the systems and applications we use,” she said. “I really thought I had a shot this time.” 

Kimberly did the right thing and reached out to her union representative right away. NAPE/AFSCME argued that DHHS violated our union contract by not promoting Kimberly, the most senior of the applicants who scored substantially the same.

“Throughout this process, I felt hopeful at times but also disappointed because it seemed obvious that our contract was violated,” she said. “Our union acts with a lot of integrity and negotiates in good faith — sometimes I feel like agencies do not do the same.”

After an arbitration hearing, a settlement agreement was reached and Kimberly was paid back wages at the rate of the position she should have been hired into.

“I’m happy to have won and I hope my case shows other people in my situation that it’s winnable, we can come out on top,” Kimberly said. “Our union had my back and went to bat for me to ensure the contract we negotiated was being honored. These things are worth fighting for.”

If you have any questions about the promotion or hiring process, contact us right away.

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees