A lawsuit filed in March by a group of 71 police officers in Chesterfield County, Virginia has been temporarily put on hold. According to the Washington Post, the lawsuit alleges that the county violated a state law passed in 2005 that effectively lowered the minimum hours that had to be worked to receive overtime pay. This group of officers claims that the county deliberately withheld overtime pay for them, and are seeking back pay and punitive damages. The officers have put their lawsuit on hold for now, as they prepare to plead their case in front of the Board of Supervisors.
Federal overtime law under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) stipulates that employers must pay overtime when a four-week pay cycle exceeds 171 hours. Conversely, a 2005 state law championed by the current Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli requires that departments employing at least 100 law-enforcement officers must compensate them for overtime at time-and-a-half their regular hourly wage for all hours between the federal statutory maximum of 171 and the hours for which an officer is salaried. Despite this law, Chesterfield County has allegedly denied the officers overtime pay under these specifications.
The officers are apparently not the first to take legal action, as Albemarle and Loudoun counties were also sued by officers over the same discrepancy. In these two cases, and possibly in others, the county settled with the law enforcement officers and agreed to give them back pay for unpaid overtime. If the county were to lose this lawsuit, they could be liable for over $5 million because a state law allows for damages of double the amount of unpaid overtime plus attorneys’ fees.
Labor laws can be confusing, especially when state and local laws effectively amend each other. Therefore, many employees question whether they are being properly compensated for their work. If you believe that your employer may be violating federal or state employment laws, including overtime compensation, you may be entitled to remuneration. Contact an experienced overtime lawyer through the form on the right to see if you are eligible to receive back wages for unpaid overtime, misclassification or underpayment.