JACKSON, Miss. — Editors Note: Reports of this settlement were first made public on February 9, 2015 by The Clarion-Ledger.
With complaints by multiple police officers employed by the city of Jackson growing in numbers, the Department of Labor launched a violation investigation in 2011 to address officer concerns that they were being forced to work extensive overtime hours without being adequately compensated, according to The Clarion-Ledger.
The Department of Labor investigation published shocking findings regarding the Jackson police department as over half of the police force, 255 police officers, were being neglected payment for overtime hours worked. When confronted with evidence indicating that over half of the police force was being financially exploited, former Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr., maintained that stance that officers would not be eligible to recover monetary payments, only compensatory time.
In response to the city’s unwillingness to properly compensate its officers, two lawsuits were filed in federal court on behalf of Jackson police officers hoping to receive compensation for their extensive overtime hours worked.
The first of these lawsuits was met with a settlement offer issued by the city of Jackson that was accepted by the represented officers. The settlement was reached in March 2014 and called for $177,500 in back pay to be spread out among the filing officers.
The second lawsuit was filed in April 2014 but has since been settled after the city of Jackson issued another offer of financial compensation. This settlement will be for a reported $73,000 in back pay, contingent on Jackson City Council approval.
Paul Williams, attorney representing the wrong police officers, was “glad to have gotten the settlement.”
Important Mississippi Worker Rights Information
Mississippi state legislation has yet to address any worker rights regarding a minimum wage or mandated break periods. With no state laws present, federal law and the Fair Labor Standards Act serve as the preeminent sources for protection and labor regulations for Mississippi workers.
With no state enforced minimum wage, Mississippi is subjected to the federal minimum wage which currently rests at a rate of $7.25 per hour, unless an employee is deemed legally exempt from the minimum wage.
In addition to the minimum wage being dictated by federal law, the overtime rights of Mississippi workers are granted to them by the federal law as well – in the form of the Federal Labor Standards Act. The FLSA requires that for all hours work over 40 in a standard 7-day work week, a non-exempt employee is to be paid 150% of their standard hourly rate for all overtime hours worked.
Overtime hours include pre/post-shift duties, “off-the-clock’ duties, and breaks of less than 20 minutes or breaks in which employees are not fully relieved of their duties. Mississippi workers who work more than 40 hours in a week should be paid at least $10.88 per hour for all overtime hours worked.
Because an employer can manipulate records, fail to account for hours worked, or employ a wide variety of deceptive tactics, a complaint by an employee is often required for the Department of Labor to be made aware of labor violations.
Call (855) 754-2795 to determine if you may be eligible to investigate the actions of your employer or pursue a lawsuit to reclaim withheld wages. An employer may not retaliate against an employee for reporting labor violations or pursuing legal action against them.