The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday upheld a lower court ruling in favor of a state employee who challenged a government dress code banning blue jeans.
In late 2019, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services notified employees of a new dress code that prohibits employees from wearing blue jeans, T-shirts, or other casual wear except on Fridays.
Meanwhile, more than 200 union covered employees have filed complaints claiming they violated union agreements by the department’s unilateral decision to change the dress code. When the department issues a new dress code, the language of the employee contract requires the agency to negotiate with the union if a stricter dress code is required and provide a clothing allowance of up to $250. I was. Directed by Justin Hubley.
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Employees also said the new dress code was being arbitrarily enforced, with some employees doing the same job in the same place, same shift, being allowed to wear jeans, while others were required to wear jeans. was allowed.
Within weeks of the new dress code, employees won their grievances in binding arbitration, and the agency sued to overturn the arbitrator’s decision. Lancaster County Judge Robert Otte upheld the arbitration. said the department could set a dress code, but that it must be “reasonably enforced”.
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In its opinion on Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court said the arbitrator was “well within his authority” in holding that the agency violated the labor contract by changing the dress code.
Labor union president Melissa Haynes, in a written statement, praised the High Court’s ruling and said the case was about the enforcement of a basic contract.
“We always want to work with DHHS management to resolve disputes, but we never hesitate to stand up for our rights,” Hines said.
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Jeff Powell, spokesman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, said the agency would not comment on the ruling or whether it would negotiate a new dress code with employees.