Deputies involved in OT controversy set to get payments

Posted: July 24, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Sixty-four Frederick County sheriff’s deputies should be receiving their overdue overtime checks soon.

“The agreement gives us 60 days [to get the checks out], but we intend to get it done a lot sooner,” County Attorney Roderick B. Williams said in a Tuesday phone interview.

A lawsuit — filed by the deputies on April 16, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg — alleged that Frederick County Sheriff Robert T. Williamson, his office, the county government and County Administrator John R. Riley Jr. did not adequately pay them for overtime hours worked.

The case was originally set for a three-day jury trial beginning March 25.

Frederick County and Riley settled with the plaintiffs for $115,460, and Williamson and the Sheriff’s Office settled for $90,000 — an amount intended to pay for attorney fees and be distributed among the deputies.

The amounts the deputies will receive vary from $10.73 to $3,980.67, according to court documents.

Williams said the county will issue separate checks to the deputies’ attorney, who will then be responsible for distributing them to his clients.

The county has 121 full-time deputies. According to the lawsuit, they are governed by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) specific to law enforcement.

The FLSA generally requires employers to pay overtime to an employee who works more than 40 hours per week. Deputies are scheduled to work 160 hours during a 28-day work period, but localities can alter the work period for law enforcement employees to avoid paying overtime until an officer works more than 171 hours during a 28-day work period.

In 2005, Virginia officials amended state overtime laws to require sheriff’s departments with 100 or more law enforcement employees to pay overtime for the difference between the regularly scheduled hours a deputy worked (160) and the federal maximum allowed (171) — referred to as “gap pay.”

“Despite recognizing that the law applied to the county at that time, the defendants still refused to comply with the gap pay requirements until Jan. 1, 2012,” the suit stated.

In addition to allegedly failing to pay overtime for the gap pay, the defendants also violated the requirements of FLSA and state law by altering employees’ time records, misappropriating hours and failing to pay compensatory time as overtime, according to the suit.

The suit stated that the deputies were repaid compensatory time at a straight rate instead of the state-required rate of 11/2 hours for each hour of overtime.

— Contact Melissa Boughton at mboughton@winchesterstar.com