* The Furlough Policy and the Use of Social Media Policy are separate from the Nebraska Supreme Court Personnel Policies and Procedures and apply equally to all employees of the Nebraska Supreme Court. These include all employees in the county court system, the probation system, the Reporter's Office of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, the Clerk's Office of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, the Administrative Office of the Court/Probation, the Office of the Counsel for Discipline, and the State Law Library. These policies also apply to the State Court Administrator; the State Probation Administrator; the Clerk of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; the Reporter of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; all private staff of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, including administrative assistants, career law clerks, and law clerks; the staff attorneys of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; all official court reporters; and any other employee of the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Adopted 9-17-03; amended May 23, 2012
* The Workplace Harassment Policy, Drug-Free Workplace Policy, and Travel Policies are separate from the Nebraska Supreme Court Personnel Policies & Procedures and apply equally to all officers and employees of the Nebraska Supreme Court. These include all officers and employees in (1) the county court system, (2) the probation system, (3) the Reporter's Office of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, (4) the Clerk's Office of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, (5) the Administrative Office of the Supreme Court, (6) the Office of the Counsel for Discipline, and (7) the State Law Library. These policies also apply to (1) the State Court Administrator; (2) the State Probation Administrator; (3) the Clerk of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; (4) the Reporter of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; (5) the Counsel for Discipline; (6) the justices of the Supreme Court, judges of the Court of Appeals, and all private staff of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, including administrative assistants, career law clerks, and law clerks; (7) the staff attorneys of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals; (8) all district court judges and their official court reporters; (9) all juvenile court judges and their official court reporters; (10) all county court judges; (11) all Workers' Compensation Court judges; and (12) any other court officer or employee subject to the Nebraska Revised Code of Judicial Conduct.
Amended 9-17-03; Amended 12-22-10, effective 1-1-11
(* Note: See explanation under Other Related Policies.)
Furlough is involuntary leave without pay for a preset number of hours during one or more pay periods. No paid leave times shall be taken by an employee during a furlough.
If the Supreme Court deems it necessary to deviate from the standard workday or standard workweek due to shortage of funds, the Administrative Office shall submit a proposed furlough plan to the Supreme Court.
The furlough plan to be submitted to the Supreme Court shall specify:
1. The purpose of the furlough.
2. The job classifications, specific offices, funding sources, or any combination thereof affected by the proposed plan.
3. The criteria used to select the classification, specific offices, funding sources, or any combination thereof included in the furlough.
4. The approximate duration of the proposed furlough.
5. The preset number of hours during one or more pay periods that will be reduced.
6. The estimated cost savings generated by the proposed furlough.
7. Any other information requested by the Supreme Court.
After approval by the Supreme Court of a furlough plan, the Administrative Office shall notify appropriate supervisors of the affected offices. The supervisor shall notify employees affected by the furlough plan.
An employee's accrual of vacation and sick leave will continue during furlough periods at otherwise authorized rates notwithstanding other rules to the contrary. Social Security and retirement contributions shall be reduced in proportion to the reduction in the employee's gross pay. Such furloughs shall not affect an employee's health insurance, continuous service, length of service, or eligibility for authorized holiday compensation or longevity increases.
A furlough shall not be used as a disciplinary action against an employee.
(* Note: See explanation under Other Related Policies.)
The purpose of this policy is not to restrict the flow of useful and appropriate information, but to minimize the risk to the Nebraska Supreme Court and its employees. The Nebraska Supreme Court recognizes the growing importance of online social media networks as a communication tool and respects the right of employees to use these mediums during their personal time. Use of these mediums during working hours or on work equipment, however, should be kept to a minimum and shall not interfere with the conduct of state business.
The Nebraska Supreme Court takes no position on employees’ decision to participate in the use of social media networks. However, employees who participate in social media may include information about their work with the Nebraska Supreme Court as part of their personal profile, as it would relate to a typical social conversation. This may include:
· Work information such as work location, job title, and job duties.
· Status updates regarding an employee’s own job promotion.
· Personal participation in court activities and sponsored events, including volunteer activities.
In general, employees who participate in social media are free to publish their own personal information without censorship by the Nebraska Supreme Court.
All employees are responsible for maintaining the Nebraska Supreme Court’s positive reputation and presenting the Court in a manner that safeguards the positive reputation of themselves, as well as other employees and judges.
If an employee chooses to identify himself or herself as a court/probation employee on any social media network, he or she must state in clear terms that the views expressed are the employee’s alone and that they do not reflect the views of the Nebraska Supreme Court. Employees are prohibited from acting as a spokesperson for the Nebraska Supreme Court or posting comments as a representative of the Court.
There are some types of information employees are not permitted to discuss or display online, including:
· Information that is confidential or proprietary to the Nebraska Supreme Court, or to a third party that has disclosed information to the Court. For example: information about or identifying coworkers, judges, court cases, or parties in a case.
· Statements disparaging the Nebraska Supreme Court, judges, attorneys, or coworkers.
· Nebraska Supreme Court’s seal on any social media network. Also, images of coworkers, judges, and court or office premises and property.
· Statements, comments, or images referencing illegal drugs or that include profanity or could be considered obscene.
· Statements, comments, or images that disparage any race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or national origin. Also, any communication that engages in personal or sexual harassment, unfounded accusations, or remarks that would contribute to a hostile work environment (racial, sexual, religious, etc.), as well as any behavior not in agreement with any Nebraska Supreme Court codes of conduct or personnel policies.
The nature of any social media posting and degree of harm to the Nebraska Supreme Court will be factors in determining whether discipline will be imposed and the severity of any such discipline, up to and including termination of employment.
(* Note: See explanation under Other Related Policies.)
It is the policy of the Nebraska Court System that all its officers, employees, and the recipients of its services be treated fairly and equally, with dignity and respect.
Accordingly, any court system officer or employee who, while on court system or related premises, engages in sexual harassment or in any manner utters, circulates, or publishes any inflammatory comment, joke, or innuendo based in whole or in part on race, color, religion, age, disability, or national origin, when such
(1) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, or
(2) interferes unreasonably with one's work or employment opportunities or with the receipt of services, shall be deemed to have engaged in workplace harassment and shall be subject to appropriate discipline.
Any officer or supervisor who knowingly permits an employee to engage in such harassment shall also be subject to appropriate discipline.
For the purpose of this policy, “sexual harassment” shall be defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, and either verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
(1) submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term of an individual’s employment or a condition of an individual’s receipt of court services, or
(2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or court system decisions affecting an employee or recipient of the court system services; or
(3) such conduct, whether welcome or unwelcome, has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or with an individual’s receipt of court services, or of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
Any officer or employee who believes that he or she has been the subject of workplace harassment is encouraged to report the alleged incident immediately to the Administrative Office which shall process complaints in a timely and confidential manner. Supervisors should contact the Administrative Office whenever they have information regarding a possible violation of this policy. Complainants and other persons involved in an investigation of an allegation of workplace harassment shall not be subjected to retaliation, coercion, intimidation or reprisal.
(* Note: See explanation under Other Related Policies.)
Drug abuse and use at the workplace are subjects of immediate concern in our society. These problems are extremely complex and ones for which there are no easy solutions. From a safety perspective, the use of drugs may impair the well‑being of officers, employees, and the public at large, and may result in damage to court property. Therefore, it is the policy of the Nebraska Court System that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession or use of a controlled substance in the workplace is prohibited. Any officer or employee violating this policy will be subject to discipline up to and including termination. The specifics of this policy are as follows:
1. The Nebraska Court System does not differentiate between drug users and drug pushers or sellers. Any officer or employee who gives or in any way transfers a controlled substance to another person, sells or manufactures a controlled substance, or violates any drug law while on the job or on court premises will be reported to the appropriate prosecuting authority and, whether convicted or not, will be subject to discipline up to and including termination.
2. The term "controlled substance" refers to any drug listed in 21 U.S.C. § 812 or a drug, substance, or immediate precursor listed in Schedules I to V of § 28‑405 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes. Also included in the term are unauthorized prescription drugs.
3. Each officer and employee is required by law to inform the State Court Administrator or State Probation Administrator within 5 days after he or she is convicted of violating any federal or state criminal drug statute, where such violation occurred on the court system's premises. A conviction means a finding of guilt by a judge or jury in any federal or state court.
4. The Administrative Office will notify the U.S. government agency with which a contract has been made within 10 days after receiving notice from an employee or a judge or otherwise receiving actual notice of such a conviction.
5. If an officer or employee is convicted of violating any criminal drug statute while at the workplace, he or she will be subject to discipline up to and including termination. Alternatively, the Nebraska Court System may require the officer or employee to successfully finish a drug abuse program sponsored by an approved private or governmental institution.
As a condition of further employment on any federal government contract, the law requires all officers and employees to abide by this policy.
Reimbursements will be made only for travel expenses essential to the transaction of official business and all expenses claimed should reflect only those amounts actually expended. Expense vouchers should be fully itemized, including when, where, and why the travel expenses were incurred with expenditures listed by the day the expenses were incurred. Expense vouchers must be submitted at least on a monthly basis to the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation. Expense voucher forms are available online at: http://www.supremecourt.ne.gov/forms/supreme-court-travel-report.shtml. If the reimbursement is for an expense related to education, the voucher should be submitted directly to the Judicial Branch Education Director.
Before an officer or employee attends a function, conference, or meeting requiring travel, approval should be obtained from the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or Judicial Branch Education Director. This does not include normal day-to-day travel required for regular job responsibilities or activities required or sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation including Judicial Branch Education. However, a judge exercising his or her authority to request assistance from another judge to cover cases on a temporary basis, shall request approval from the Administrative Office of the Courts only if the replacement judge must travel more than 60 miles (one way) to perform those duties. In all cases, prior approval must be obtained if the travel method chosen is not the most economical method of transportation.
Every effort shall be made to submit requests for approval for travel not later than 30 days prior to the event.
Air travel shall only be authorized by the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or Judicial Branch Education Director when it is more economical than surface transportation or will result in a substantial savings of expense or productive time. Reimbursement for commercial air travel will be limited to “coach” fare if such seating is available at the time of ticket purchase. Travel by privately-owned, state-owned, or personally rented airplanes must have the prior approval of the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or Judicial Branch Education Director. Employees and officers should coordinate with the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or Judicial Branch Education Director in booking air travel. The submission of a receipt showing booking terms is required for reimbursement.
An employee will be reimbursed for use of a personal vehicle while on work-related business (this does not include commuting miles). When reimbursement is claimed for mileage by personal automobile, the points between which said mileage occurred, the times of arrival and departure, and the necessity and purpose of such travel should be shown on such claim. The license number, the employee’s NIS number (the NIS number is shown on paycheck stub information available online), the owner of the automobile used, and the rate per mile being claimed should also be shown. Total mileage will be reimbursed at the current mileage rate per mile per vehicle as determined by the Nebraska Supreme Court regardless of the fact that one or more persons may have been transported in the same vehicle. Funds expended for parking may be claimed in addition to mileage.
If an officer or employee chooses to use his or her personal automobile in lieu of air travel even though air travel is a more economical method of transportation, the officer or employee will be reimbursed only the amount equal to the cost of the airfare. Other expenses such as lodging and meals that may be incurred because of traveling by personal automobile will not be reimbursed.
It is recommended that if a state vehicle is available, it be used in lieu of a personal vehicle when traveling in excess of 50 miles.
No reimbursement for mileage will be allowed when such mileage accrues while using an automobile owned by the State of Nebraska.
Permanent state vehicle assignment will be considered when a vehicle is required for a period of 30 days or longer, will travel a minimum of 1,000 miles, and will be utilized 17 working days monthly.
Requests for permanently assigned vehicles should be submitted to the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation at least 20 working days in advance of the required date. Requests should include the date the vehicle is desired; the type of vehicle desired, i.e., compact, intermediate, or regular sedan, et cetera; the estimated monthly mileage; the name of the principal driver; and the office location.
Personal use of any state-owned vehicle is prohibited by statute and is a Class V misdemeanor. See Neb. Rev. Stat. §81-1024 (Reissue 1999).
Whenever a state vehicle is permanently assigned to an officer or employee of the court, additional policies regarding the use of a state vehicle should be requested from the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation.
Officers and employees are encouraged to carpool for travel to events, and the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation reserves the right to require carpooling with state vehicles for specified functions.
Commuting expenses are defined by the Internal Revenue Service as those expenses incurred in traveling from one’s residence to one’s place of work and return to residence no matter how often this occurs during a day. These expenses are considered personal expenses and are not considered reimbursable expenses. When using a state car for commuting, IRS rules require that $1.50 each way be added to the employee’s income reported on a W-2.
The approval to attend a conference, workshop, or meeting that is not considered a normal job responsibility, or that is not sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation including Judicial Branch Education, shall be obtained from the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator or Judicial Branch Education Director prior to the individual’s attendance at such function. If funding is being requested for an education event that is not sponsored by Judicial Branch Education, prior approval shall be requested by using the forms prescribed by the Judicial Branch Education Director. The forms are available at: http://www.supremecourt.ne.gov/jbe/pdf/jbe-request-commitment-of-funds.pdf.
Only conference/meeting expenses incurred on the days necessary to travel to and from the conference/meeting and those incurred on the actual days of the conference/meeting may be reimbursed. Prior approval from the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or Judicial Branch Education Director must be obtained for reimbursement of expenses that result from arriving early or result from extending departure. The following includes additional specific limitations in expense reimbursements.
Only actual amounts paid for meals may be claimed. The Internal Revenue Service requires employees to substantiate the cost of meals under an accountable plan. The Administrative Office of the Courts/Probation requires all officers and employees to keep itemized receipts (not credit card receipts) for meal expenses. Transfer the receipt information to the expense voucher and attach the receipts to the expense voucher to satisfy the IRS requirement for an accountable plan. Unsubstantiated meal expenses will not be reimbursed. Again, the amounts claimed should be actual meal costs. Tips are a reimbursable expense. No reimbursement may be made for alcoholic beverages.
There are time limitations on reimbursements for meals. The time limitations do not include the time taken for the meal. If departure is before 6:30 a.m. or 1½ hours before the officer or employee begins work, whichever is earlier, breakfast may be reimbursed. Noon meals may be reimbursed if departure is at or before 11 a.m. (for overnight travel) or the return time is at or after 2 p.m. (from overnight travel). Noon meals for 1-day travel are not reimbursable. If the return time is after 7 p.m. or 2 hours after the officer’s or employee’s workday ends, whichever is later, the evening meal may be reimbursed. Meal expenses incurred in the city or town in which the residence or primary work location of such employee or officer is located are not reimbursable. Reimbursement for meal expenses incurred on 1-day travel is taxable income to the officer or employee if the expenses are $200 or more in any one year--December 1 through November 30. The total amount is taxable income.
Reimbursements for meals will not exceed the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) limit on meals. Meal allowances include tips. For travel in the State of Nebraska all cities but Omaha have a maximum allowed of $36, however the reimbursement rate is computed on a per meal basis: breakfast, $7; lunch, $11; and dinner, $18. Omaha’s maximum allowed is $46 per day (breakfast, $9; lunch, $13; and dinner, $24). Guidelines for meal allowances outside the State of Nebraska can be found on the following Web site: www.gsa.gov. Employees or officers will not be reimbursed for any meal that was provided as part of an event or function should they choose to eat elsewhere absent good cause shown.
Lodging may be reimbursed if the attendance of a meeting or conference requires an officer or employee to be away from the general area of his or her normal work location for a period substantially longer than an ordinary day's work. The absence must be of such duration that the officer or employee cannot reasonably leave and return to that location before and after each day's work.
Generally, a person must be 50 miles or more from his or her workplace in order to be eligible for lodging reimbursement. Under special circumstances and with prior approval, lodging may be approved for distances less than 50 miles. A written request for such approval should be directed to either the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator or if the event is a Judicial Branch Education event, the Judicial Branch Education Director.
Receipts for lodging on motel/hotel letterhead are required for reimbursement (not the charge card receipt). Only actual expenses for lodging are reimbursable, and prior approval is generally required. No movie charges or alcohol charges are allowed. At the time a request is made to attend the conference/meeting, individuals should request that the State Court Administrator, State Probation Administrator, or the Judicial Branch Education Director try to arrange for direct billing.
The state rate for lodging should always be requested. In no event should the federal GSA per person per night rate be exceeded without advance approval. Any deviation from the federal per diem rates (GSA per diem rates: www.gsa.gov/perdiem) must be accompanied by documentation justifying the need for such deviation. If an officer or employee shares a room with an individual other than an officer or employee, only the single rate will be reimbursed. The difference must be paid when checking out. The motel/hotel should note the single rate on the bill. If a room is shared by two or more officers or employees, the name(s) should be noted on the bill.
It is the responsibility of an employee or officer to honor hotel/motel checkout times. If a late checkout results in a charge for that day, payment of that charge will be the responsibility of the officer or employee.
Often for meetings and conferences sponsored by the Supreme Court, lodging expenses will be direct billed. Billing should always be checked before leaving the hotel/motel. If lodging is direct billed, individuals must pay additional costs, i.e., telephone calls, which may be indicated on the billing. Personal phone calls are not reimbursable.
If lodging is with friends or relatives, there are no reimbursable lodging expenses.
Registration fees for programs not funded by the Supreme Court are reimbursable if prior approval has been granted. The original receipt or canceled check should be included with the claim.
Parking expenses, tips, tolls, and baggage handling expenses are reimbursable. No receipts are necessary unless the expenses are unusually high.
Other ground travel expense (cab, shuttle bus, intra-city bus, et cetera) is reimbursable. No receipts are necessary unless the expense is unusually high.
Note: If an officer or employee of the Court registers for a conference or workshop and then fails to attend without canceling in adequate time, all expenses (i.e. registration fee, lodging, prescheduled meals, et cetera) will be the responsibility of the officer or employee of the court except under extraordinary circumstances.
Expense vouchers should be submitted at least once a month but may be submitted more often if desired. Expense voucher forms are available online at: http://www.supremecourt.ne.gov/forms/supreme-court-travel-report.shtml. All expenses should be listed for conferences separately from other monthly travel expenses. Employees and officers must include their NIS number on the expense voucher. The NIS number is shown on paycheck stub information available online.
Expenses should be itemized so that the nature, purpose, and necessity of each item are apparent. Expense vouchers should include the time and place of departure and the time of return to the headquarter city in each instance. All items claimed for reimbursement for any one trip should be included on the same expense voucher.
One officer or employee may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred on behalf of another officer or employee, such as when two employees sharing a motel room are billed jointly and one officer or employee pays the bill. The officer or employee to be reimbursed should provide the same detailed information on the expense voucher that would have been required if each officer or employee had been billed individually. In all cases, when one officer or employee is requesting reimbursement for expenses of more than one officer or employee, original receipts should be provided, and the officers or employees’ names listed and documents cross-referenced, when applicable. If two officers or employees are billed jointly, but each pays half and each requests reimbursement separately, the documents should be cross-referenced, since one officer or employee usually will not have an original receipt.
Expenses will be paid for officers and employees of the courts and probation only. In cases in which a spouse or other individual accompanies the officer or employee on official business, only the expenses of the officer or employee will be paid. In such cases, lodging and other receipts should indicate the appropriate single person charge.
Original signatures on all expense vouchers are required from both the officer or employee and appropriate supervisor (Division Approval). No stamped signatures will be accepted.