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Nebraska's high court hears DHHS battle over blue jeans

Nebraska’s high court hears DHHS battle over blue jeans

Much ado about denim as a dispute over a change in dress code at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services makes it all the way to the state supreme court. Nebraska’s high court heard oral arguments in the battle over blue jeans at the Nebraska City High School auditorium Wednesday.”We wear jeans in a little silent protest here of how silly it is to spend taxpayer dollars litigating the case all the way up to the Supreme Court over such a trivial issue,” said Nebraska Association of Public Employees Executive Director Justin Hubly. But Hubly said the issue goes beyond whether an employee can wear jeans on the job but whether the state can change a policy without negotiations and how binding is arbitration .”So that’s really why we’re here today. That’s the important issue,” Hubly said. DHHS is appealing a District Court ruling that backed an arbitrator’s decision that blocked a 2019 policy c hange that would have prohibited casual dress except on Fridays.DHHS attorney Grant Dugdale argued the arbitrator didn’t formally list the findings of facts in his decision and he went beyond what the contract said.”It doesn’t include or talk about implementation, it talks about the process for not implementing the rule,” Dugdale said.”The arbitrator exceeded their authority, we have the opportunity to go to court to vacate it,” Dugdale said.NAPE Local 61’s attorney, Dalton Tietjen, said the union wasn’t ‘t properly notified of the dress code change and it was not implemented uniformly so it was implemented in an unreasonable manner.”The appellant dislikes the result and their appellant is searching high and low for a reason to invalidate it,” Tietjen said. state and union have since ironed out the dress code disagreements but Hubly said other issues remain.”The contract still contains an arbitration clause. And so you know, for speed for expeditiousness and costs, arbitration is much faster than going to the court system and clogging the court system,” Hubly said.

Much ado about denim as a dispute over a change in dress code at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services makes it all the way to the state supreme court.

A couple of dozen state employee union members dressed in jeans and flip flops sat in as Nebraska’s high court heard oral arguments in the battle over blue jeans at the Nebraska City High School auditorium Wednesday.

“We wear jeans in a little silent protest here of how silly it is to spend taxpayer dollars litigating the case all the way up to the Supreme Court over such a trivial issue,” said Nebraska Association of Public Employees Executive Director Justin Hubly.

But Hubly said the issue goes beyond whether an employee can wear jeans on the job but whether the state can change a policy without negotiations and how binding is arbitration.

“So that’s really why we’re here today. That’s the important issue,” Hubly said.

DHHS is appealing a District Court ruling that backed an arbitrator’s decision that blocked a 2019 policy change that would have prohibited casual dress except on Fridays.

DHHS attorney Grant Dugdale argued the arbitrator didn’t formally list the findings of facts in his decision and he went beyond what the contract said.

“It doesn’t include or talk about implementation, it talks about the process for not implementing the rule,” Dugdale said.

“The arbitrator exceeded their authority, we have the opportunity to go to court to vacate it,” Dugdale said.

NAPE Local 61’s attorney, Dalton Tietjen, said the union wasn’t properly notified of the dress code change and it was not implemented uniformly so it was implemented in an unreasonable manner.

“The appellant dislikes the result and their appellant is searching high and low for a reason to invalidate it,” Tietjen said.

The state and union have since ironed out the dress code disagreements but Hubly said other issues remain.

“The contract still contains an arbitration clause. And so you know, for speed for expeditiousness and costs, arbitration is much faster than going to the court system and clogging the court system,” Hubly said.

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