Loudon commission to consider back pay claims
Hugh G. Willett, Special to the News Sentinel
The Loudon County Commission next month will consider approval of an $8,800 settlement to three county Juvenile Justice Center employees over a claim for several years of back pay.
County Mayor Buddy Bradshaw said he will recommend the commission approve payment of $3,800 to Officer Debbie Cansler, $2,000 to Officer Chris Hill and $3,000 to former officer and Kevin Curbow, the current Juvenile Justice Center director.
"It's about being fair and doing what's right for these employees," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said no formal lawsuit has been filed in the case but discussions have been ongoing since late in 2014. He said Curbow brought the issue to his attention shortly after he took office. The county human resources director, Tammy Reynolds, was also brought into the discussion.
Bradshaw said he spoke with each of the individual officers and that all told the same story about being called out at nights and other times outside their standard working hours. He said the employees were not given overtime pay.
"In the past they had call-outs and were told by the previous director to take a few extra minutes at lunch," Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said the officers were patient throughout the numerous meetings. Although no lawsuit was filed, legally the employees can request the back pay for up to three years from the time the situation was brought to the attention of the county, he said.
"They should have gotten compensation," Bradshaw said.
He said the county attorney's office pulled records from the Juvenile Justice Center for several years and was able to substantiate the extra work had been performed by the officers.
County Attorney Robert Bowman confirmed the offer was settlement of a claim.
He said the issue is covered under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The cost of the original request might have been slightly less than the $8800 had the dispute been litigated, but it was preferable to settle the issue without having to incur the court costs, Bradshaw said. All parties have agreed to the terms of the settlement, he said.
"I think the commission will agree that this is a fair settlement," he said.
County Commissioner Van Shaver said he asked whether former Juvenile Justice Center director Richard Thomas, who retired last year, had been questioned about whether the officers had been compensated and if not, why.
"I just wondered what his side of the story was," Shaver said.
Shaver said he would be inclined to support the settlement based on the recommendation of the mayor and the county attorney.
Bradshaw said Thomas had not been included in the discussions. He said the available records were sufficient to substantiate the claims made by the officers.
Thomas did not respond to a request for comment.