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Frederick County settles lawsuit

By Joe Beck

A large group of Frederick County deputies will be receiving an estimated average of $2,000 per person through a settlement of a federal lawsuit involving overtime pay.

A document filed Friday in U.S. District Court by Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou reported, "the parties have settled this matter upon mutually agreeable terms."

The case had been scheduled for trial on March 25, but details of the settlement emerged at a Frederick County Board of Supervisors meeting Thursday. The supervisors agreed to pay $115,460 to 64 deputies who filed the suit and an additional amount of almost $20,000 to a smaller number of deputies who had chosen not to join the suit.

County Attorney Roderick Williams said the amounts of money paid to each deputy will vary from less than $100 to more than $1,000 with an average of about $2,000. Williams said the amount will depend on factors such as how many hours of overtime they were scheduled to work during the period covered by the lawsuit.

"We're happy anytime we can get a contested legal matter resolved, particularly in this case," Williams said. "It's unfortunate we had a situation where county law enforcement officers and the county were at odds on their pay because that's obviously not what the county wants with regard to its deputies."

The case involved a dispute over a change made in the state's overtime law in 2005 that required sheriff's offices with more than 100 law enforcement employees to pay overtime for so-called "back pay" -- the difference between 160 hours of regularly scheduled deputy work and the allowable maximum of 171 hours under federal standards.

Deputies are scheduled to work 160 hours during a 28-day period, but counties had been able to adjust the work periods in ways that allowed them to keep paying law enforcement officers at normal rates until they reached the 171-hour federal limit.

Another part of the lawsuit that lists Sheriff Robert Williamson and the Sheriff's Office remains to be settled.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com


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