Sunday, November 18, 2007
Nebraska Supreme Court allows district courts to dictate work schedules of public safety employees. Hogelin v. City of Columbus, S-06-641, 274 Neb. 453. The Chief of the Columbus Fire Department required firefighters to attend extra safety training that the US Department of Homeland Security funded but the training schedule would put the firefighters over the maximum work hours that Section Section 35-302 allowed (no more than 60 hours per week, given 24 hour schedules). The head of the union complained that the evening training schedules interfered with his visitation schedule and another firefighter received a reprimand for failing to attend a training session when the fire department had already approved his trip out of town to attend a wedding in North Carolina. The firefighters right to the maximum hours restrictions in 35-302 was so important that the firefighters' collective bargaining agreement allowing the City to set work schedules did not set aside the requirements of the statute. Finally the court finds an injunction was appropriate. Remember that next time a government agency in Lincoln decides to impose extra training requirements on a small town's fire or police department.