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Deputies’ lawsuit over pay dismissed

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Judge rules that salary schedule was a promise, not a binding contract

By Ramsey Scott

A lawsuit filed against the Jeffco Sheriff’s Office by current and former deputies over pay raises has been dismissed. 

About 40 employees filed the suit in federal court late in 2012, claiming that a salary schedule used as a recruitment tool was essentially a guarantee of future raises. The employees sued for back wages and overtime starting in 2012.  

Yet in his ruling Jan. 13, Judge Wiley Daniel said the deputies were at-will employees and that the pay schedule posted by the sheriff was a promise, not a contract. 

“(The) plaintiffs have not cited, and I have not found, any case where a court has recognized a (Fair Labor Standards Act) claim based on the posting of salary schedules or similar documents,” Daniel wrote in his decision. 

Daniel also noted that the deputies and civilian employees continued to work without complaint despite receiving pay lower than what was on the schedule. Their continuing to stay employed would have modified any contract between the Sheriff’s Office and the employees, he ruled. 

“I find the plaintiffs’’ conduct in continuing to work at a lower rate than in the salary schedules without protest modified any promise or agreement to pay the salary schedule rate,” Daniel wrote. 

A request for a comment from the deputies’ attorney was not returned by press time, so it was not known whether an appeal was being considered. 

The county commissioners, who were named among the defendants in the case, approved a 2014 budget that included a 5 percent raise for sworn officers in the Sheriff’s Office. 

 

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22., and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine. Check back at www.columbinecourier.com for updates.