A Violation of Due Process – Part 2

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors has possibly exposed taxpayers to a major lawsuit over how the County pays overtime to its Deputy Sheriffs. In the original article exposing the arbitrary limits and policy manipulations by the County, the following questions were posed:

 On what authority can the County deprive a deputy of property rights obtained through honest labor?

 On what authority can the County manipulate internal policy to force its Deputies to not only work for “free” (unpaid “comp” time) but also sacrifice their earned vacation time (vested property right) as a result of the County’s manipulation of policy?

 Now it comes out that the County, when confronted with a Deputy’s need for overtime money to pay for essentials at home, the County refuses to pay overtime owed until the Deputy can show that he truly needs the money by showing financial statements, bills and other documentation. On what Constitutional authority does the County rely upon for this egregious invasion of privacy?

 Pinal County may have legal exposure at this moment. Nothing the County is doing with regard to its overtime policy for Deputies is ethical or legal: it is as politically motivated and as corrupt as it gets.

 Members of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office have made formal demands for overtime payment of overtime earned. One employee of the Sheriff’s Office made a request on November 19th. On November 30th, the Pinal County Human Resources Department acknowledged receiving the request.

 On December 14th, the Human Resource Director punted the problem down the road, saying he had just sent out a new policy for comments and he will be using the new policy, if approved, for cash payouts. But until it is approved, he will not process cash payments for overtime.

 Initially, Ms. Brandi Clark, Human Resources Manager, wrote the employee that the process will take one to two weeks, which puts the request for payment into mid-December, a full four weeks after the request was made. It looks like the County is stalling until January.

 Apparently, the Deputy Association’s attorney has already sent the County a “cease and desist” letter regarding the intrusive and invasive process the County established for payment of overtime. It is my understanding the Association’s attorney is ready to take the next step.

 In the course of correspondence with Supervisor Rios, he made the following post script on December 22nd:

 “PS…We are working on OT pay…Most will more than likely be very satisfied with the solution……..” I hope so, for it is not only a matter of correcting the current process but also repairing past damages.

 The Pinal County Citizens for Excellence in Government await the County’s resolution to this harmful and morale destroying issue.

A Violation of Due Process?

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors appears to be facing significant resentment from the men and women of the Pinal County Sheriff’s Department. About two years ago, in an effort to control cost, the County arbitrarily limited overtime on a quarterly basis. When that limit is met, the County forces deputies to work overtime for unpaid compensation, which is essentially time off. However, the County appears to be illegally making money in the process.

 The legal perspective is quite interesting. Once a Deputy has worked overtime, the County incurs an accounting liability for the value of the overtime worked. The Deputy has an inherent interest in this value as a property value. It is the Deputy’s property.

 When the County placed an arbitrary limit on the overtime the Sheriff’s Office could work, it replaced overtime payment with unpaid “comp time.”  However, the County also stated that the Deputy had to take “comp” time off first before vacation time. As a result of the accumulated “comp” time, the Deputy was unable to access his vacation time.

 So we have a case of the County Government arbitrarily restricting overtime payment for work received from the Deputy. In addition, the County forces the Deputy to accept unpaid “comp” time in return for overtime worked.

 Unfortunately, the PCSO is understaffed due to hiring restrictions placed on it by the County. The understaffing creates a situation where the PCSO is forced to work overtime to meet minimum staffing levels that prevent the deputy from using up previously earned “comp” time. Some beats go unmanned due to understaffing. Because the Deputy cannot use up his earned “comp” time, the County prohibits him/her from using earned vacation time. At the end of the County’s Fiscal Year, any unused vacation is erased off the books.

 The Deputy has a property interest in his/her earned vacation time. The County recognizes this property interest as a liability to the County: they owe the Deputy the value of the vacation earned. When the County unilaterally took the earned vacation away from the Deputy, the County deprived the Deputy of his property interest without due process of law (5th and 14th Amendments) at a minimum.

 On what authority can the County deprive a Deputy of property rights obtained through honest labor? On what authority can the County manipulate internal policy to force its Deputies to not only work for “free” (unpaid “comp” time) but also sacrifice their earned vacation time (vested property right) due to the County’s own manipulation of policy?

 This issue has been referred by the Board of Supervisors to a work group to meet in October. This will be an interesting meeting as the two Democrat Supervisors do not like the Republican Sheriff. This issue is not only a morale and safety issue for the deputies but a potential legal issue for the County Supervisors.