NAPE/AFSCME member Marisela Aguilar, a Social Services Worker for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in Scottsbluff, recently prevailed in a grievance after she was unjustly disciplined.
DHHS alleged that Marisela falsified the number of overtime hours she worked. She was placed on disciplinary probation for six months and suspended for three days without pay. Additionally, DHHS garnished Marisela’s wages to recoup the overtime hours she had claimed. Marisela did not falsify her time card.
“To get pulled into the office unexpectedly like that was shocking. They have access to all of our information that proves that we’re here,” she said. “We email our supervisors to let them know that we’re in the office and starting our overtime. I did that, but they tried to claim that my work wasn’t sufficient enough to justify my time.”
Marisela was rightfully upset about these allegations, but she initially felt nervous about challenging the allegations.
“I know how tough the state is and I was a little intimidated,” she said. “It was frustrating being accused of lying about something like that, so I decided to reach out to NAPE because the worst thing the State could do is say no.”
Through our negotiated grievance process, our union successfully argued that there was no just cause for Marisela’s discipline because the allegations were not true. Moreover, we argued that DHHS violated our union contract and the law by garnishing wages from Marisela’s paycheck for hours that she actually worked.
As a result of the grievance victory, the discipline was removed from Marisela’s personnel file and she was awarded back wages for her time on unpaid leave. She was also compensated for the overtime hours she worked.
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