NE Supreme Court rejects Omaha appeal over firing of Fire Union President

(Lincoln, NE) -- The Nebraska Supreme Court rejects an appeal made by the City of Omaha preventing Omaha's Fire Union President Steve LeClair from being reinstated.

The court sided with a district court judge's original decision that LeClair should have only been suspended for five days, rather than being terminated, following a November 2018 altercation at an Omaha bar. A black woman filed charges on LeClair after he reportedly pushed his forearm into her back and said "white power" at Tiger Tom's bar. Following the incident, an arbitrator determined that LeClair's firing was too extreme of a measure considering his record and that more lenient punishments had been imposed on other city workers.

The City of Omaha then appealed the arbitrator's decision, which brought a district court judge into the mix. That judge agreed with the arbitrator, but the city came back asking her to rescind the ruling, leading to the case going to the Supreme Court. In the high court's ruling, Justice Jonathan Papik wrote: "While we do not minimize or condone the acts LeClair admitted to, much less those he was accused of, all that we are empowered to do is determine whether one of the narrow grounds on which courts may vacate arbitration awards applies."

Following the ruling, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert issued the following statement:

"I am greatly disappointed in the decision of the Nebraska Supreme Court to give Steve LeClair his job back. The criminal acts that led to LeClair’s termination are reprehensible. Assaulting a woman of color and using a racially charged statement while doing so is inexcusable. This type of behavior is unacceptable for anyone and, even more so, for a firefighter who is supposed to protect the public. While I must accept the decision of the Nebraska Supreme Court, I maintain my position that LeClair’s termination was justified." - Mayor Jean Stothert

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