Jackson, Mississippi Pays Police Officers $177K Settlement For Unpaid Overtime

JACKSON, MS &#8211 Forty-one Jackson Police Department officers are sharing today in a $177,500 partial settlement reached with the city of Jackson over work they did, but weren’t paid for, from 2009-11, with the total settlement expected to be about $413,600.

The officers were represented by the Mississippi Police Benevolent Association and were scheduled to have their settlement checks from the city of Jackson delivered today to compensate them for time that the U.S. Department of Labor said the city owed to the officers, the association said in a news release.

The Department of Labor began investigating the city in 2011 after multiple officers complained that they were being forced to work overtime without proper pay. The department investigation resulted in finding that 255 police officers, over half the police force, were owed money, the association said. The city maintained that the officers could only recover compensatory time, not monetary payment.

After several officers complained, an ensuing Department of Labor investigation found that 255 Jackson Police Department officers were owed more than 15,158 hours of overtime between them, worth around $240,000. But rather than pay out the wages, the city, under former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., offered only to convert all of their unpaid hours to comp time, which can be used like vacation. The thinking was that it made more financial sense for the city to pay out the wages over time as opposed to in one lump sum.

Many took the deal at the time, but 23 officers represented by the Mississippi Police Benevolent Association sued, arguing that they were entitled to money if they wanted it. Others joined the lawsuit later, and dozens of non-PBA officers filed a separate suit in February 2013. The two lawsuits were later consolidated into one.

Under the settlement, those who sued will go home with double the wages the Labor Department said they were owed, and attorneys for the two groups will receive sizeable payments as well.

Adding a $31,750 federal fine, the city has now spent $445,350 to put to rest a $240,000 wage dispute.

“We were confident from the beginning that we would be able to get the City to pay our members the money they were owed,” Tommy Simpson, executive director of Mississippi PBA, said in the release. “What is so unfortunate is that the taxpayers are now paying more than double what the dispute could have been resolved for. This isn’t the first successful lawsuit we’ve filed against Jackson P.D. over overtime pay. We hope it will be the last and that the city will pay its officers appropriately going forward.”

The Mississippi Police Benevolent Association is a division of the Southern States PBA, a not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to improving the law enforcement profession.

From The Clarion Ledger

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