Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Berkeley County Council has authorized spending up to $285,000 to settle a federal lawsuit by eight Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office deputies claiming unfair compensation for overtime.
The authorization was made during a special meeting of council July 14 after mediations by attorneys led to an agreement.
Blakely v. Berkeley County was filed in May 2013. Deputy James Blakely filed the complaint alleging the county did not reimburse him for overtime work. The complaint allowed other deputies to join. The deputies are K-9 and narcotics officers.
Attorney Marybeth Mullaney represented the plaintiffs.
She said the lawsuit is in regard to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which ensures overtime pay and holiday pay is compensated. The complaint alleges Blakely and other Berkeley County law enforcement officers suffered damages as a result of FLSA violations.
The complaint stated that Blakely regularly worked in excess of 171 hours in a 28-day work cycle and was rarely compensated properly for those hours. Blakely has worked for the county since 2001.
“My clients are pleased that the county worked with us to resolve this matter and they look forward to continuing to do what they love which is serving the citizens of Berkeley County. It was not an easy thing for them to step forward but they did so with the hope of making positive changes for all similarly situated County employees. I hope that the Sheriff’s Office will recognize them as leaders and that they will continue to grow in their careers with the department,” Mullaney said in a statement released to the Independent.
During the July 14 meeting, county council agreed to pay up to $285,000 with those funds coming from the fund balance.
The lawsuit will be settled once Judge Patrick Michael Duffy of the S.C. District Court approves the agreement.