According to the Washington Post, a lawsuit has been filed against the Loudoun County sheriff’s office and Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson due to unpaid overtime. Numerous Loudoun County deputies, as well as members of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA), filed this lawsuit. They contend that the unpaid overtime was caused by Simpson’s implementation of unfair labor practices. Furthermore, they claim that these unfair labor practices have a negative influence on how a deputy does his or her job and, therefore, affect the safety of the community. Accordingly, they are seeking $600,000 in damages.
Basically, the lawsuit affirms that the deputies should be paid overtime for all hours worked over forty in a workweek. In addition, the lawsuit contends that the sheriff’s office has purposely avoided paying overtime by establishing a flex policy. This policy involves cutting a deputy’s regularly scheduled work hours when he or she has worked extra hours in a workweek, to cover for another deputy perhaps.
Simpson claims that this lawsuit is a case of “dirty politics” because the PBA had previously supported his political opponent. The Loudoun chapter of the PBA strongly denies a political motivation of the lawsuit, however. Simpson also noted that he opposed the implementation of the flex policy. He alleges that a county-hired consultant put it into place, and that the county is more to blame for the unpaid overtime. “Somebody works overtime, you get paid overtime, that’s the price of doing business. But [the county] cut my overtime dramatically, and that’s why we’re where we are” he said.
How to avoid an unpaid overtime claim: Overtime Policies
In California, there are several regulations and exemptions that relate to overtime pay. These statutes are more beneficial to employees than the corresponding federal regulations. Eight hours of work per day is normal for a nonexempt employee with a regular workweek. Nine or ten hours of work per day can be normal for employees with an alternative workweek. Only straight-time hours count towards overtime. Therefore, if an employee has been paid overtime for hours over eight in a day, those overtime hours do not count toward the 40-hour weekly limit. Overtime does not include hours not actually worked by an employee, which includes vacations, holidays, etc. Overtime hours are strictly based on hours worked, not hours paid.
Overtime pay is based mostly on the number of hours worked in one day. Overtime must account for weekly totals as well. Based on California law, time-and-one-half an employee’s regular rate of pay must be provided for all hours worked beyond eight in one workday, as well as the first eight hours worked on the seventh consecutive day worked in a single workweek. An employee must be paid double their regular rate of pay for all hours worked beyond twelve in a single workday, as well as any hours worked beyond eight on the seventh consecutive day. Essentially, it is imperative for an employer to put posters regarding pay rules and overtime on a place where all employees can view them. That way, employees will be reassured that their employer will not consent to unpaid overtime.