U.S. Department of Labor

05/15/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/15/2019 08:01

U.S. Department of Labor Recovers $59,769 for 31 Tennessee Sheriff’s Department Employees After Investigation Finds Wage Violations

HUNTSVILLE, TN - After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD), the Scott County, Tennessee, Government has paid $59,769 in back wages to 31 employees in the Scott County Sheriff's Department for violating the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The employer was also assessed a civil penalty of $12,486 by WHD for repeat violations.

WHD investigators determined Scott County incorrectly applied an overtime exemption that applies to law enforcement and fire protection employees to dispatchers who, as civilian employees, do not qualify for the exemption. In a two-week schedule, these dispatchers worked 60 hours one week and 24 hours the second week. Instead of paying dispatchers overtime when they exceeded 40 hours during a workweek, the employer paid overtime when they worked more than 86 hours during the two-week pay period. WHD also found Scott County Government paid patrol officers per their scheduled hours, instead of the number of hours they actually worked. This practice resulted in overtime violations when officers worked before or after their scheduled shifts, and that extra time remained unpaid.

'Misapplying exemptions results in workers taking home less than the wages they have legally earned, and can quickly add up to significant back wage liabilities,' said Wage and Hour District Director Nettie Lewis, in Nashville, Tennessee. 'We encourage all employers to make use of the resources we provide to help them understand their responsibilities and operate in compliance with the law. Violations like those found in this case can be avoided.'

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.