AP

High court sides with Nebraska HHS workers over dress code

Jan 19, 2023, 9:04 PM | Updated: Jan 20, 2023, 11:10 am

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska Supreme Court upheld on Friday a lower court judge’s ruling that sided with state employees who fought back against a government dress code banning blue jeans.

In late 2019, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services advised its employees of a new dress code barring employees from wearing blue jeans, T-shirts and other casual wear except on Fridays.

In turn, more than 200 union-covered employees filed a grievance saying the department violated the union contract by unilaterally deciding to change the dress code. At the time the department issued the new dress code, the employee contract language required the agency to negotiate with the union if it required a more stringent dress code and to offer a clothing stipend of up to $250, according to Nebraska Association of Public Employees Executive Director Justin Hubly.

The employees also said the new dress code was arbitrarily enforced, with some employees who performed the same work at the same location and on the same shift being allowed to wear jeans, while others were not.

Within weeks of the new dress code, employees won their grievance in binding arbitration, and the agency sued to try to overturn the arbitrator’s decision. Lancaster County District Judge Robert Otte upheld the arbitration, saying that department can set a dress code but that it must be “implemented reasonably.”

The Nebraska Supreme Court said in its opinion Friday that the arbitrator was “well within his powers” in finding that the agency had violated the labor contract with its dress code change.

Union President Melissa Haynes lauded the high court’s ruling in a written statement, saying the case was about basic contract enforcement.

“We always want to work collaboratively with DHHS management to solve disputes, but we will never hesitate to defend our rights,” Hynes said.

Nebraska Health and Human Services spokesperson Jeff Powell said the agency would not comment on the ruling or whether it would now seek to negotiate a new dress code with employees.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

18 hours ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

2 days ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

3 days ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

4 days ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

5 days ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

5 days ago

High court sides with Nebraska HHS workers over dress code