By Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- Nearly 50 fire and rescue workers for Frederick County can expect to see a total of $96,000 in unpaid overtime in a deal reached Wednesday.
But the Board of Supervisors did not offer a deal to nearly 60 former and current deputies with the sheriff's office who claim the locality cheated the employees out of overtime pay for years until January.
Instead, the supervisors passed a resolution 6-1 that seeks to undercut the deputies' original notice of claim submitted to the county in April. The resolution states the organization which represents the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit filed over the complaint does not exist. The resolution as approved advised the plaintiffs, represented by the Northern Virginia chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, to refile a proper version of the claim, one to which the county can respond.
However, Leesburg attorney, Caleb A. Kershner, representing the police group, requested during the public comment period that supervisors reject the resolution. Kershner said the notice of the claim was filed properly. Kershner called much of the resolution's claims a "red herring," specifically the allegation that the plaintiffs violated Virginia's law forbidding government workers from collective bargaining.
Kershner outside the meeting told reporters he planned to regroup and see what direction the plaintiffs might take. They could seek to appeal the matter of the notice of claim to the circuit court, Kershner said.
"It seems to me that they chose their words very, very carefully," Kershner said.
"If we were to really look at it, these deputies have been losing pay for the overtime they've been putting in, illegally, for over five years," Kershner said. "Unfortunately, the statute only allows you to look back three years.
"It almost sounds like they're talking out of both sides of their mouth in one respect and that is they're passing a resolution to reject this [notice of claim] and yet saying oh well we want to settle this," Kershner added. "They didn't really have to put forward this resolution whatsoever."
Kershner said the supervisors' action approving the resolution does not affect the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court which claims the county violated state code by failing to pay the officers for overtime compensation, among other allegations.
The notice of claim Kershner submitted to the county alleged the locality owed former and current sheriff's office deputies $325,000 in unpaid overtime and other compensation.
Sean McGowan, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the police association, also asked supervisors to reject the resolution.
Supervisors amended the resolution, on advice from County Attorney Roderick Williams, to indicate the board and the locality's intent to continue negotiations with the current and former deputies who brought the claim.
Several members of the board expressed a desire to negotiate with the plaintiffs in the matter.
But Supervisor Ross Spicer, who voted against adopting the resolution, recommended the board delay the item until the next regular meeting to allow for officials to address concerns about the language in the resolution.
Kershner noted that so far the county has put no offer on the table to settle with the plaintiffs.
Supervisors reached an agreement with 48 fire and rescue department workers who claimed the locality owed the employees overtime pay. Firefighters submitted its notice of claim to the county March 27.
The resolution before the Board of Supervisors sought to settle the claim brought by fire and rescue workers to pay the employees a total of $96,000. Supervisors approved the resolution 7-0.