Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

New Security Measures Put in Place After Employee Was Attacked and Grievance Filed

Employees at the Transportation Services Bureau office in Lincoln have had concerns about the security of their front desks for a long time. There are no cameras, no panic buttons, and the glass windows in front of the desks have to slide open for paperwork to pass through. When the employees requested extra safety measures be put in place, DHHS denied them—claiming it would cost too much money.

The issue came to a head in April when a DHHS client entered the office upset that their SNAP benefits had been denied. The limited security at the front desk provided April Dohmen, an Office Technician, with very little protection, and the disgruntled client punched her in the face through the open sliding glass window.

Police were called and the client was arrested, but nobody from DHHS management reached out to April to check on her or to investigate the incident. 

NAPE/AFSCME member Erich Gebers, who usually works at the Nebraska State Office Building, was filling in at the TSB office the day April was attacked. He called his union representative to discuss options to address the issue. NAPE Field Representatives identified a contract violation since DHHS failed to take any measures that would ensure TSB employees had a safe work environment. A grievance was prepared, and April and other office staff signed onto the grievance as well. 

When Erich, April, and NAPE Field Representative Erika Vasek met with the labor relations representative for DHHS, they talked about their history of reporting these safety concerns and the lack of support their office received from DHHS. 

The union contract requires that employees have access to a safe working environment. NAPE argued that DHHS violated that contractual right by refusing to take the employees’ concerns seriously and put in the safety measures that they requested. 

DHHS has since installed security cameras and a panic button. They are also in the process of installing new, more secure front desk windows that do not have to slide open for employees to interact with the public.

If you’re worried about safety in your workplace, don’t hesitate to contact your NAPE/AFSCME  representatives for advice. 

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees