Lancaster County and a former law clerk at the County Attorney's office have reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit alleging she lost her job for taking time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.
Nancy Weber of Lincoln will get $100,000 under the agreement, according to County Board of Commissioners records, though the county is admitting no wrongdoing.
Weber had alleged that Joe Kelly — then-county attorney and now U.S. Attorney for Nebraska — ultimately gave her the choice of retiring or being fired two days before her scheduled FMLA leave for a foot surgery in April 2016.
She had worked at the office for 16 years.
In April, Chief U.S. District Judge John Gerrard allowed Weber's claim to go forward, saying an employer cannot use the taking of FMLA leave as a negative factor in employment actions or count the time under "no fault" attendance policies.
"Simply put, when an employer attaches negative consequences to the exercise of protected rights, it has 'chilled' the employee's willingness to exercise those rights because he or she does not want to be fired or disciplined for doing so," the judge wrote.
Here, he said, a reasonable fact-finder could conclude that's what the county did.
Shortly after Weber gave the county her formal FMLA documentation for a surgery on April 7, 2016, she was informed she needed to attend a disciplinary meeting. After the meeting and just days before the surgery, her employment was terminated.
The county argued it was Weber's poor performance, not her request for leave, that led to her termination.
This week, attorneys in the case filed a joint motion asking for the case to be dismissed. Both sides declined to comment.