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Sheriff's office to file claim against county in deputy lawsuit

Employees claim right to overtime pay according to Virginia code

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

A lawsuit accusing Frederick County and the sheriff's office of cheating current and former deputies out of overtime pay took a turn this week.

Attorneys for the sheriff's office say the agency intends to file a "crossclaim" against Frederick County. Richmond attorney Leslie A. Winneberger filed on Thursday in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg a motion to stay and for an extension of time in the case of Scott Baber et al versus Frederick County and the Sheriff's Office. In her motion Winneberger states their client, Sheriff Robert Williamson and his office, intends to file an indemnity claim against the county.

Nearly 60 former and current deputies for Frederick County, represented by the Leesburg law firm Simms Showers LLP, accuse the county of not paying overtime owed under Virginia code.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of the deputies by the Police Benevolent Association in April, claims the county violated the fair labor standards act by failing to compensate overtime. Online court information indicates the plaintiffs seek up to $5 million from the respondents.

The county, represented by Salem attorney Jim H. Guynn Jr., asked the court in documents filed May 14 to dismiss the plaintiffs' collective civil action on the grounds the deputies failed to state a claim and for a lack of jurisdiction in the case. The respondent contends in its motion the deputies, both current and former, are not employees of the county but rather the sheriff's office. The county also sought more time to respond to the complain.

Neither the sheriff's office nor the county has filed an answer to the complaint.

But as a June 1 deadline to respond nears, Winneberger asked the court for more time because her firm's client intended to file the crossclaim against the co-defendant.

Winneberger filed a brief in support of her motions that states before the sheriff's office can file such a crossclaim, the agency must comply with Virginia code, which requires all claims against the county be received and approved by the governing body, the brief states.

State code "provides a mechanism for appeal if the governing body disallows the claim," according to the brief.

Williamson and his office are asking that the court stay the proceedings in the case until they have enough time to comply with the state requirements, the brief states.

"All the claims in this case would be more easily resolved in one matter rather than bifurcating the federal and state claims," according to the attorney. "Sheriff Williamson and the Sheriff's Office further ask that the stay of proceedings encompass all all further filing deadlines, hearings, and discovery.

"The stay is particularly important as the County and County Administrator seek to be dismissed, but may be brought back into the case by the crossclaim Sheriff Williamson and the Sheriff's Office intend to file," Winneberger states.

Williamson and his office also seek relief from their obligation to file an answer to the complaint on or before June 1. The agency also seeks more time to file its answer, the crossclaim and any other responsive pleadings until after they can comply with the state code requirement.


The county is handling this issue in a manner that is consistent with their tenure. They say that the deputies are not employees of the county, but yet who handles all matters of human resources? Why must they attend meetings for personnel matters and abide by policies set forth by the county? Its time for Frederick County to accept responsibility. Pay what is owed instead of continuing to waste tax dollars for attorneys. They have chosen to ignore this matter for almost a decade and chose to not pay correctly. Its time to accept responsibility and be accountable to your public servants! After all, the county is quick to remind taxpayers when they are delinquent in taxes. Frederick County you are delinquent!

Bottom line, PAY the people and move on!

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