AFSCME Council 18

San Miguel County Settles Union Wage and Hour Lawsuit -- Must Pay Eight Detention Officers $70K in Backpay

Taxpayers Foot the Bill for Advise from Management Consultant 

For more than three years, San Miguel County scheduled its officers at the County Detention Center to regular rotations of on-call duty, but without pay.  On July 9, the practice, which violates the Fair Labor Standards Act, cost the county -- and its taxpayers -- close to $70,000.

AFSCME Council 18, which represents the San Miguel County Public Safety, including the officers at the facility, objected to the practice and requested to negotiate a policy that would be in compliance with the FLSA.  Dina Holcomb, a principle partner in Management Associates, served as the county's lead contract negotiator and refused to bargain on the issue, insisting the county was not obligated to pay the employees for an on-call assignment.  On-call is a practice where an employee is required to be available to return to work as needed on their time off.   

Last Year, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of several of the officers.   Eight San Miguel Detention Officers signed on to the class action lawsuit seeking back payment for on-call assignments. While more officers could have been eligible to receive compensation through the settlement, many had removed themselves from the suit over the past year in the face of intimidation and threats of retaliation by upper management. 

As the case reached Federal Court, San Miguel County hired a second legal team to handle the case. The county’s new legal counsel recognized the county's liability and agreed to an out-of-court settlement to compensate the officers for years of their on-call assignments.    

“Management Associates benefits from a short sighted strategy,” said Shane Youtz, AFSCME Council 18 Chief Legal Counsel. “They act as if the best way to solve a problem is to pretend it doesn’t exist, but that ends up being expensive for tax payers in the long run.”

“This backpay victory is a welcome and important victory for San Miguel County Public Safety and every unionmember facing this style of attacks across the state," said Chris Armijo, AFSCME Council 18 staff representative and lead negotiator for the officers.  "AFSCME is about standing up for what is right, enforcing the laws which are meant to protect workers, and improving the work-lives for our members. We trust San Miguel County  management now realizes that the advice they’ve been paying for, that taxpayers have been paying for, has a higher cost than they thought and, in the end, doesn’t help the people of the county.”  

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA),is a federal statute, which was passed in 1938.  The FLSA is a  cornerstone of labor law and sets the rule for how employers manage hours and pays its employees.

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