The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office responded to a complaint filed with the U.S. Labor Department.
An employee filed the complaint about having to work without pay and the federal government found two violations.
WAAY 31 learned how changes are now being made at the sheriff's office.
The sheriff's office told WAAY 31 there was no intentional wrongdoing, but they’ll be taking extra steps in the future to make sure no other employee feels they’ve been forced to work without pay.
“We have a lot of employees who constantly want to contribute any way they can, internally and externally, to the community," said Deputy Stephen Young with the Limestone County Sheriff's Office.
When it comes to the overall work ethic at the sheriff’s office, Young says they’ve got the hardest working employees.
“That’s really a good problem to have. It’s a real blessing," he said.
However, one employee felt they were being required to work without compensation and so they filed a complaint with the Department of Labor.
That complaint was in regards to the annual sheriff’s rodeo. The employee felt some people were required to work the event without pay.
Young says participating in the rodeo is not mandatory, but it is an opportunity for employees to get involved in the community.
However, after investigating, the Department of Labor found that the rodeo did not meet their definition of "volunteering."
Another part of the complaint was about deputies doing patrol work—like filing arrest warrants—while off-duty, which the Department of Labor determined to be another violation.
The sheriff's office settled the case for about $50,000. That amount will be distributed among 126 employees.
Young says they've never asked employees to work without getting paid, but moving forward, they will make sure that proper paperwork is always filled out and submitted.
"We’re going to have to ensure that we remind people that all of those opportunities—especially outside of work—are just that, and that that’s voluntary," Young said.
It’s unclear when the complaint was filed to the Department of Labor, but it covers the time period between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2018.
The Limestone County Commission will vote on the settlement at their next meeting. If it’s approved, affected employees will receive checks from the county commission by March 4th.
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