Five current employees of the Baldwyn Police Department filed a lawsuit against the city on Wednesday, alleging they have been denied pay for overtime and straight time despite logging and recording overtime hours for years.
According to the complaint, which is only one side of the legal argument, officers Chris Gilland, Paul W. Ferrell, Anthony Buse, Buck Franks and Tarvis D. Davis are seeking back pay for overtime worked throughout their careers with the Baldwyn Police Department. The officers obtained the legal representation of William B. Ryan of Donati Law, PLLC in Memphis, who filed the complaint in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi on Wednesday, June 13. According to a release that accompanied a copy of the legal complaint, “the City of Baldwyn violated federal law when it failed to pay its police officers the legally required overtime premium, which is one and one-half (1.5) times their regular hourly rate for all overtime hours worked. Specifically, the Complaint alleges that the City violated the law by deducting time worked from time sheets and by failing to pay police officers for all hours worked. Additionally, the Complaint alleges violations of state law for unpaid straight time. The plaintiffs seek unpaid wages and liquidated (double) damages.”
A copy of the lawsuit, which was sent to The Baldwyn News on Thursday morning by the law firm, also includes verbiage suggesting other previous employees of the department may seek to join the suit, and asks the court to allow for this. The lawsuit also asks that the City cover all costs, expenses and attorney’s fees. The City of Baldwyn is listed as the only defendant in the filing.
“We believe that there has been a clear violation of the law and that our clients are entitled to unpaid straight time and overtime compensation for all time worked,” Ryan said in the release. “We hope to hold the City accountable for those fine officers who keep Baldwyn safe and put their lives on the line every day.”
When reached for comment Thursday morning, Baldwyn Mayor Michael James said neither he nor City Attorney John Haynes were aware of it.
“This is the first I have heard about it,” James said Thursday. “I called our city attorney, Mr. John Haynes, and he wasn’t aware of it either. We haven’t received anything formally, whatsoever. Until we are formally served the papers and have had a chance to review it, we will not have any comment.”
The Baldwyn News will update this story with additional statements and information as they become available.