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Sheriff's office blames "third parties" in answer to deputy pay lawsuit

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

The Frederick County Sheriff's Office responded to a lawsuit claiming the agency cheated nearly 60 former and current deputies out of overtime pay.

Sheriff Robert T. "Bob" Williamson, identified as a respondent in the suit filed April 16 in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, denied some allegations made in the complaint.

Williamson and his office, represented by Richmond attorney Leslie A. Winneberger, admitted to certain allegations in the suit regarding how the county and agency compensated officers.

The sheriff and his agency state in the answer as a defense that "Any alleged harm suffered by Plaintiffs was caused by conduct of third parties over which Defendants had no control or authority."

A group of more than 50 current and former sworn officers of the agency claimed in the complaint they did not receive "gap pay" as required under Virginia code from the time the state adopted the regulations several years ago until January this year.

The plaintiffs alleged the county and the sheriff's office violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Virginia Police Benevolent Association filed the lawsuit on behalf of the officers. The plaintiffs are represented by the Leesburg firm Simms Showers LLP.

The lawsuit names Frederick County as a respondent, represented by Salem attorney Jim H. Guynn Jr.

In its answer filed Friday, the attorney for the sheriff's office states the "Defendants admit that at least since 2005, Plaintiffs' ... work period has been set at 28 days and Plaintiffs are regularly scheduled to work 160 hours in that 28 day period." The answer goes on to state the defendants admit they and the county knew around 2005 about the passage of state code which set forth the "gap pay" requirements.

"Defendants admit the County did not pay Plaintiffs at the rate of time and a half for the time period between 160 hours and 171 hours ('gap time')," the answer states. "Defendants admit that the County did not pay Plaintiffs at the rate of time and half for gap time until on or about January 1, 2012."

"Sheriff Williamson admits he adopted the County's 'compensatory time' policy that allowed his deputies to accrue overtime hours in one work period and take those hours off in future periods," the answer states. "Sheriff Williamson suspended this compensatory time policy on or about March 29, 2012."

"Defendants admit the County did not give Plaintiffs credit for compensatory time at a time and a half rate for hours worked over 160 and below 171," the respondent adds. "Defendants lack sufficient information to admit or deny whether the County gave Plaintiffs credit for compensatory time at a time and a half rate for hours worked over 171 hours."

Williamson admits he adopted a system called "adjusted work scheduling," which he suspended on or about March 29 this year, according to the answer. Williamson denies alleged violations of law were brought to his attention on numerous occasions, the answer states.

The defendants admit the county's policy and practice has been to repay certain compensatory time at straight time, according to the answer. Also, for the past three years, the county gave plaintiffs compensatory time credit at a straight-time rate for hours worked in excess of 160 and below 171, the answer notes.

"Defendants admit Plaintiffs are regularly scheduled to work 160 hours in a 28 day period," the answer states. "Defendants deny Plaintiffs routinely work in excess of 160 hours. Defendants admit Plaintiffs were not paid at a time and a half rate for any hours above 160 and below 171."

1 Comment

I think its all well and good to give compensatory time for overtime.But I also think in a job like these officers have that they should get paid in cash for the over the normal time. Where would we be without them when we need them.Also if they where going to do that they should have made it clear before they worked ,then they could say no.These people are in danger all the time. Pay them. People out here are crazier every day. Thanks officers for all you do from a grateful citizen of Frederick Co.

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