Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

Lincoln Corrections Member Has Discipline Overturned By Hearing Officer

NAPE/AFSCME member Erica Terrazas works for the Department of Correctional Services at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in Lincoln. In her role as a state employee, she sometimes attends Parole Board meetings at the State Penitentiary. In August 2022, Erica attended a Parole Board meeting where she spoke to the board. Erika was shocked when she received a Statement of Charges alleging that she had worked for the parole of an inmate.

Upon receiving the Statement of Charges, Erica did the right thing and called her union representative right away. A member of the NAPE/AFSCME field staff assisted her in preparing her for the pre-disciplinary meeting and then represented her at the meeting. At the meeting, Erica’s representative made it clear that she had not committed the alleged policy violation. Despite this, NDCS proceeded to discipline Erica with a Written Warning.

When union members are disciplined without just cause, they can use the grievance process to challenge the discipline. After receiving the Written Warning, Erica’s union representative determined that there was not just cause for discipline because Erica had not violated NDCS policy. Our field representative filed a grievance on Erica’s behalf. After NDCS refused to vacate the discipline, a hearing was held at which a hearing officer found that Erica did not violate the policy and that NDCS violated the labor contract by disciplining her without just cause. The hearing officer ordered NDCS to withdraw the discipline from Erica’s personnel file.

It’s important that employees challenge discipline that violates our union contract. While a Written Warning might not seem severe, employees have the right to progressive discipline. This means that the employee’s history of discipline must be taken into consideration before they are disciplined. An employee with prior discipline in their personnel file is likely to face more severe discipline, up to and including termination, if disciplined again.

As a union member, Erica received representation through the discipline and grievance process at no cost. By being proactive and reaching out to NAPE/AFSCME before the pre-disciplinary meeting, her representative was able to set her up for a successful case to challenge the discipline. Erica also did a great job sharing the Notice of Discipline with her union representative right away. Employees must file grievances within 15 work days or they give up their right to challenge the contract violation. If you or a colleague receive a Notice of Allegations, a Statement of Charges, or a Pre-Disciplinary Notice, please contact us right away.

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees