Trending Topics

Maine jail pays $133K in back OT wages to 142 COs following federal investigation

A judge ruled the Somerset County Jail violated labor laws by failing to pay its COs an OT premium under a contract with the United States Marshal’s Service

Screenshot 2023-10-25 152725.png

Somerset County Sheriff’s Office

By Sarah Roebuck

MADISON, Maine — The Somerset County Jail in Maine has paid $133,273 in back overtime wages to its 142 correctional officers, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor.

This payment comes as a result of an investigation conducted by the Department’s Wage and Hour Division into overtime violations at the jail between 2017 and 2019, as well as litigation by its Office of the Solicitor.

The facility had an established agreement with the federal government for correctional officers under a contract with the United States Marshal’s Service to provide accommodation, security and sustenance for federal detainees. It also housed non-federal detainees within the same premises.

On January 6, 2023, a federal administrative judge issued a partial summary decision against the jail, affirming the Department of Labor’s claim of violations under the Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act (CWHSSA).

The judge specifically ruled on the overtime violations, stating that overtime under the CWHSSA must be paid based on a standard workweek. The jail’s argument that its compliance with Section 7(k) of the Fair Labor Standards Act — which allows for certain law enforcement employees to receive overtime pay over work periods longer than a standard workweek — was dismissed as a valid excuse for its non-compliance with the CWHSSA.

The judge also deemed all hours worked by the correctional officers as constituting work under the federal contract, which is why they were subject to the overtime provisions of the CWHSSA. This decision was influenced by the fact that the jail did not specify between federal and non-federal detainees or track hours worked specifically for the federal contract. This lack of distinction made it impossible to separate hours worked for the federal contract from those not worked for it.