The Liberty County Board of Commissioners will pay $209,106 in back wages to 131 employees – patrolmen, jail guards and courthouse guards – for violations of the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act found in a U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigation.
The county issued the following statement regarding the violation, and Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown confirmed that the county made payment to the DOL on behalf of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department.
“On Nov. 7, 2018, the Board of Commissioners was contacted by the U.S. Wage and Hour Division concerning certain recordkeeping and overtime pay practices of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Department specifically those employees assigned by the Sheriff to the traffic, jail, and security divisions. These issues resulted from practices that developed over time and led to the Sheriff’s Office not capturing all work time at shift transition times. The Sheriff’s Office reviewed time sheets for each employee in divisions where problems were identified and fully cooperated with the DOL including the review of timesheets and calculation of additional hours owed at a straight time rate or overtime rate as appropriate. Although the Sheriff’s Office has long paid overtime at time and a half, and provided comp time at this same rate, the review resulted in the identification of areas needing improvement. As a result, the department has modified operational procedures and recordkeeping to insure that all employees receive wages rightfully owed on their behalf.”
DOL officials told the Courier via email that the labor department does not disclose why they conduct an investigation.
WHD investigators found the Hinesville, Georgia-based employer failed to pay courthouse guards, jail guards, and patrolmen for all the hours that they worked, including mandatory meetings, trainings, and occasions when they covered shifts for other employees. These unpaid hours resulted in overtime violations when the employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek. The employer’s failure to keep accurate daily and weekly records of the hours employees worked also resulted in a Fair Labor Standards Act recordkeeping violation.
“The Wage and Hour Division works to ensure that employees receive the wages they rightfully earned, and that employers compete on a level playing field,” said Wage and Hour Division District Director Eric Williams, in Atlanta. “We encourage all employers to reach out to us and to use the wide variety of compliance tools we offer to help them understand their responsibilities. Violations like those found in this investigation can be avoided.”
For more information about laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243 or visit https://www.dol.gov/whd.