I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MCSO Detention Officers Sue for $8M Overtime

MCSO detention officers file $8M lawsuit for unpaid overtime

by JJ Hensley - Aug. 11, 2009

The Arizona Republic

A group of Maricopa County Sheriff's detention officers filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Monday seeking $8 million in compensation for unpaid overtime.

The detention officers filed a class-action complaint claiming they were required to attend pre-shift briefing sessions but weren't paid for the briefings.

The complaint names Maricopa County as a defendant, and the officers' claim about 2,000 individuals are eligible.

John Solano, the lead plaintiff in the case, said the association decided to move forward with a lawsuit because detention officers felt like county administrators and the Board of Supervisors weren't working with the Sheriff's Office resolve the issue.

"We postponed this because it was our understanding that the county was going to work with us," said Solano, a detention officer who has worked for the Sheriff's Office for two years.

"Between the county and the Sheriff's Office, something broke down. We're not privileged to that information. No information has been given to us. We have to protect our officers."

Officer Katie Perez, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Association of Detention Officers said the 15-minute briefing sessions were a standard part of an officer's day, and that they were paid overtime to attend the sessions until November 2007.

Maricopa County officials released an audit of the Sheriff's Office's overtime practices in May 2007 that noted overtime and shift-differential expenditures had significantly increased overtime costs for Sheriff Joe Arpaio's operation.

From November 2007 until detention officers made an issue of the unpaid overtime last spring, the briefings continued but officers weren't compensated for the extra time, Perez said.

Maricopa County administrators learned of the potential problem with unpaid overtime in the jails and undertook their own effort to determine the scope of the problem, which culminated in an analysis released last week.

The analysis was prepared by the Office of Management and Budget because of the county's "concerns regarding non-payment of overtime" for detention employees, the report said.

Using overtime data and staffing figures, the analysis assessed overtime spending patterns among detention officers and detention sergeants from February 2007 to June 2009. The report tracks spikes and drops in overtime over the years and lays out scenarios to account for unpaid overtime.

An attorney for the Sheriff's Office said the release of the report, and remarks County Manager David Smith made in a story about the overtime issue, exposed the county to more liability.

"It invites a lawsuit," said Eric Dowell, an attorney with Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart who was appointed to represent the Sheriff's Office. Smith said the report was initiated to diagnose the problem and ensure the county could settle with all the parties involved.

Off-the-clock pay lawsuits have become increasingly common in recent years, in part because it's relatively easy for a group of employees to get designated as a class. Once a court makes that designation, it becomes expensive for employers to go through a class-wide discovery, increasing the chance for a settlement, said Dan Barr, a Phoenix attorney who specializes in employment law.

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