Current, former Frederick County deputies receive settlement pitch
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
WINCHESTER -- Frederick County leaders on Wednesday offered a settlement to more than 60 current and former sheriff's deputies in a dispute over back pay.
But the more than $73,000 included in a resolution approved by supervisors 6-1 amounts roughly to a third of the $220,000 the deputies' attorneys say the county owes. Leesburg attorney Tim Bosson said his firm's 63 clients won't accept the county's offer and plan to continue forward with their lawsuit filed in federal court.
"It's disgraceful what the county is doing," Bosson said outside the meeting after the supervisors' vote.
The attorney noted the amount in the resolution fails to address compensatory pay plaintiffs claim the county owes, one of the counts in the lawsuit ongoing in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg. Bosson said he believes his clients have a strong case moving forward in the court.
Supervisors had 90 days to respond to a new claim filed by the plaintiffs in mid-July. Plaintiffs had previously expressed their grievances in April, but on a technicality they were told by supervisors to refile the claims.
Only Supervisor Ross Spicer voted against the resolution after raising questions of the discrepancy between the two amounts.
County Attorney Roderick "Rod" Williams explained to the supervisors the parties used different calculations to come up with the damages amounts. Williams told supervisors the plaintiffs' attorneys sought damages back to April, but he argued no court would allow the plaintiffs to recoup payment prior to the mid-July filing of their claims.
Bosson, during the public comment period of the meeting, reiterated the arguments of the deputies' lawsuit. Bosson claims the county failed to pay the more than 60 deputies overtime or "gap" pay for at least seven years and compensatory pay. However, the deputies by law can only seek pay back three years. The county owes deputies approximately $110,000 over the three-year period. The plaintiffs have asked the federal court to double the damages on the grounds that the county knew as early as October 2006 the state had changed the code by which law enforcement officers receive overtime.
Bosson told the board he understood the county had offered to pay the plaintiffs two years worth of the overtime pay. The attorney said that is the wrong approach given that the county, as accused, failed to adequately compensate the officers for at least seven years.
Bosson noted the damages also would include attorneys fees and related costs as the plaintiffs continue to fight the case.
Supervisors Christopher Collins, a former deputy with the sheriff's office, made the motion to approve the resolution as proposed.