Unless otherwise specified, all employees occupying a permanent position have grievance rights. Applicants, temporary employees, employees serving an original provisional period, private staff of individual judges of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeals, judges, the Clerk of the Supreme Court, the Reporter of the Supreme Court, the State Court Administrator, the State Probation Administrator, and the district court reporters have no grievance rights within the Nebraska Supreme Court Personnel System.
Covered employees in the system who are aggrieved as a result of management actions resulting in an injury, injustice, or wrong involving a misinterpretation or misapplication of personnel rules promulgated by the Nebraska Supreme Court or policies of a particular county court or probation district may formally grieve such actions.
Supervisors shall ensure that every possible effort is made to resolve grievances at the local level. Employees may ultimately appeal grievances not resolved at the local level to the Supreme Court Personnel Board by following the procedures set out in these rules.
The Supreme Court Personnel Board has final authority to determine whether or not an issue is grievable and may elect to hear any issue at its discretion. Issues determined to be nongrievable are subject to summary dismissal by the board.
The following issues, when done in compliance with established law, rule or policy, are examples of nongrievable matters. The list below is not to be considered all inclusive:
1. performance evaluations;
2. appointments and hiring selections, including promotions to positions;
3. involuntary transfers with no salary reduction or relocation required;
4. leave of absence and catastrophic illness donation porgram decisions;
5. position classifications;
6. salary allocations;
7. layoffs or reduction in hours due to elimination or reduction of funds, reduction in the workload, and/or reorganization; and
8. payment of moving expenses.
The filing of a grievance does not delay the effective date of any management action. Filing of a grievance shall not jeopardize the grievant's position, opportunities for advancement, or salary increases. No employee may be coerced by a supervisor or another employee into not proceeding with a grievance or not appearing as a witness at a hearing.
The members of the Supreme Court Personnel Board shall be appointed by the State Court Administrator and serve 3‑year terms. The Board shall be composed of one county or district judge, one chief probation officer, and one clerk magistrate. The judge member of the Board shall be the chairperson and shall preside over hearings.
A listing of the current Board members' names and addresses shall be available in the Administrative Office.
The authority of the Supreme Court Personnel Board is to determine if any decision regarding a grievance made by the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or an administrative employee delegated to respond to a grievance was made in good faith and for cause and to ensure that the actions were in reasonable compliance with the Nebraska Supreme Court Personnel Policies and Procedures or relevant state statutes. Decisions made by the Board are final and binding on all parties involved.
A Supreme Court Personnel Board member shall excuse himself or herself in decisions where his or her impartiality might reasonably be questioned, including, but not limited to, instances where the Board member has been a participating party in the grieved action. In the event that a member is excused, the State Court Administrator or State Probation Administrator shall appoint a temporary Board member to serve until a decision is made regarding the grievance.
The Supreme Court Personnel Board has final authority to determine whether or not an issue is grievable and may elect to hear any issue at its discretion. Issues determined to be nongrievable are subject to summary dismissal.
The following are the procedures and time allowances for the official grievance process. If the grievant fails to advance a grievance to any step within these time allowances, the grievance shall be considered discontinued by the grievant and the matter will be considered closed. However, time allowances may be extended by mutual agreement of the parties.
(1) Step 1. Presentation of Formal Grievance
Within 15 workdays of the occurrence of the grieved action (or from the day the employee should have known about the action), the employee shall present a formal written grievance (using the official grievance form) to his/her immediate supervisor. The grievance shall contain a detailed statement of the grievance which indicates the issue involved, the relief sought, the date the incident or violation took place, if known, and the specific rule or policy involved.
(2) Step 2. Decision-maker's Reply
If the immediate supervisor is the person who made the decision causing the grievance, that supervisor may discuss it with the grievant. The supervisor shall prepare a written reply on the grievance form to the grievance within 5 workdays of receiving the grievance. If the immediate supervisor did not make the grieved decision, he/she shall note that fact on the grievance form, sign it, and forward it to the person who made the decision within 2 workdays, skipping any levels of intermediate supervision.
The supervisor who made the original decision causing the grievance may discuss the grievance with the grievant, shall reply in writing (on the grievance form or an attachment) to the grievant within 5 workdays after receiving the grievance, and shall be responsible for consulting with all necessary levels of supervision in the preparation of the written response to the grievant.
If a supervisor in Step 2 of the Grievance Procedure fails to respond to the grievant within the specified time periods, the grievance shall be considered denied, and the grievant may proceed with his/her grievance to the next step.
(3) Appeal to the Administrative Office
If dissatisfied with the decision‑ maker's reply, the grievant has 5 workdays from receipt of the reply to appeal the decision to the Administrative Office. The State Court Administrator, the State Probation Administrator or a delegated person in the Administrative Office shall issue a decision in writing to the grievant as soon as possible.
(4) Appeal to the Supreme Court Personnel Board
If the grievant wants to appeal the decision from the Administrative Office to the Supreme Court Personnel Board, that appeal using the grievance form must be filed with the chairperson of the Board within 5 workdays of receipt of the administrative decision. Upon receipt of the appeal, the chairperson shall provide written notification to the involved parties that an appeal has been filed. The written appeal to the Supreme Court Personnel Board must set forth alleged facts in sufficient detail for the Board to decide if a misinterpretation or misapplication of the Nebraska Supreme Court Personnel Policies and Procedures has possibly occurred and whether an evidentiary hearing is necessary. If the Board decides that the appeal does not meet these criteria, an evidentiary hearing may not be granted and the appeal will be dismissed without prejudice. If the appeal is dismissed without prejudice and the grievant wishes to amend the appeal, the amendment must be filed within 10 workdays of receiving notice of dismissal. Amended appeals not filed with the Board within the 10‑workday limit will be dismissed.
When a grievance appeal is properly submitted and the Supreme Court Personnel Board determines that the issue includes a possible misinterpretation or misapplication of the Nebraska Supreme Court Personnel Policies and Procedures, an appeal hearing will be scheduled. The chairperson of the Board shall notify all parties of the time and place of any appeal hearing. A copy of the appeal shall be provided to the affected staff member in the Administrative Office.
The Supreme Court Personnel Board shall hold a hearing on as early a date as is possible or inform all parties that the issue is not grievable.
The Supreme Court Personnel Board may order a pre‑hearing conference prior to the grievance hearing to clarify the issues to be heard, the number of witnesses, the evidence to be presented, and other procedural details determined by the Board; or the Board may issue a pre‑hearing order requiring the parties to mutually resolve such matters prior to the hearing. Failure by either party to appear at a pre‑hearing conference or to respond timely to a pre‑hearing order may bind that party to the issues, witnesses, and evidence submitted by the opposing party, or to those established by the Board, which shall control the presentation of issues, witnesses, exhibits, etc., during the hearing. The Board shall designate which party shall go first in the presentation of evidence.
The Supreme Court Personnel Board shall conduct the grievance hearing and rules of evidence shall not apply unless requested by either party. Such request shall be made in writing at least 3 workdays prior to the holding of the hearing. The hearing shall be recorded on four‑track audio recording equipment.
Either party may present witnesses and/or written data. If either party wishes to use any employee of the Nebraska Court System as a witness in the presentation of his/her case, he/she shall request the Board, through the State Court Administrator or the State Probation Administrator, to require the attendance of the witness. The request for an employee's appearance must be submitted to the chairperson of the Board at least 8 workdays prior to the hearing. Notice of less than 8 workdays shall not guarantee employee attendance. A written requirement of attendance of an employee shall be prepared by the Administrative Office and sent to the employee whose attendance is required at least 4 workdays before the scheduled hearing. The Board may limit the number of witnesses either party may call to testify by considering relevancy of proposed testimony and whether or not it would be repetitious.
Employees of the Nebraska Supreme Court who are required to attend an appeal hearing shall be granted time off from their assigned duties to appear. All hours of attendance, including travel time, shall be considered work time. Reimbursement will be made for allowable expenses.
The Supreme Court Personnel Board may request opening and/or closing statements from both parties in the grievance hearing. The parties may be requested to submit summary briefs at a mutually agreed upon date subsequent to the hearing.
All parties involved with a grievance appeal hearing may present their cases either personally or through their authorized representative. Each party is responsible for any attorney costs incurred in presenting his/her case.
In the event that one party fails to appear at the grievance hearing scheduled by the Supreme Court Personnel Board, a default judgment shall be entered unless the party who failed to appear shows good cause for having failed to appear within 5 workdays after the hearing date. The chairperson of the Board will provide written notification of a default judgment to all parties.
At any time during the grievance procedure, the parties may reach a settlement and thereby terminate the process. The settlement must be in writing and is binding on both parties. The settlement must be signed by both parties and shall include a statement that neither party will pursue the matter further as long as settlement agreements are followed. At this point the grievance will be considered to be resolved. If either party fails to abide by the settlement, the violation may be grieved beginning at the local level.
At any time after a formal grievance has been properly filed, the employee and/or the Administrative Office may obtain discovery regarding any matter not privileged that is relevant to the subject matter involved in the pending appeal by utilization of one or more of the following methods: requests for depositions, requests for interrogatories, requests for production of documents or things, requests for permission to enter appropriate offices for the purpose of inspection and/or requests for admissions. Unless the Supreme Court Personnel Board rules otherwise, the frequency of use of these methods is not limited. All discovery requests are subject to the following provisions:
1. Requests for discovery shall be addressed to the party from whom the discovery is sought, with a copy addressed to the Supreme Court Personnel Board through the Administrative Office. such requests shall be sufficiently in advance of the scheduled hearing to allow for the accommodation of the time lines established below.
2. Responses to discovery requests must be provided within 10 workdays of receipt of request, unless objections are entered. Objections to such requests may be made only to the chairperson of the Supreme Court Personnel Board and must be made within 5 workdays of receipt of the request. The chairperson shall affirm or deny such objections within 10 workdays of receipt of the objections and shall establish time limits for response when objections are denied.
3. Within 5 workdays of the receipt of the discovery requested, the requesting party shall notify the answering party of any failure on the part of the answering party to properly respond to the request.
4. Except where objections to discovery requests are sustained, the failure to respond to any discovery requests may result in the answering party being denied the right to introduce the requested evidence or such other remedy as is deemed appropriate by the chairperson.
A copy of the Supreme Court Personnel Board's decision shall be forwarded to the parties involved. The original decision and all documents relating to the grievance shall be filed in the Administrative Office.