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Spotsy deputies allege they are owed for OT

About 150 former and current Spotsylvania County law enforcement officers have filed a lawsuit claiming they are owed $500,000 in unpaid overtime.

The plaintiffs allege that Spotsylvania didn’t follow a 2005 state law requiring it to pay sheriff’s deputies time-and-a-half for working beyond their regular schedules of 160 hours in a 28-day pay period.

Spotsylvania Sheriff Roger Harris, who is named as a defendant, said county officials corrected the overtime issue shortly after the suit was filed in January.

“Their main intention was to rectify it and not go back and try to punish the county,” Harris said of the plaintiffs. “I think they just want to get paid for what they’re doing.”

The suit mirrors others filed by law enforcement officers in Richmond, Winchester, Chesterfield County and other localities. Last July, about 600 retired and active Richmond police officers collected $7 million in unpaid overtime.

The Spotsylvania suit claims that deputies received time-and-a-half only for working more than 171 hours in 28 days, which is the federal standard for overtime.

But a 2005 state law requires overtime payments for all hours worked between the federal threshold and a police officer’s normal schedule, according to the suit. It’s called “gap pay.”

Attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli championed that law when he was a state senator.

In addition, the Spotsylvania suit alleges that the county often required deputies to work “off the clock” if their schedules exceeded the federal threshold for overtime. The county, it says, has shown a “reckless disregard” for federal overtime requirements.

First Sgt. Tim Bryner of the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office, the lead plaintiff in the case, said he hopes the suit can be resolved “amicably.”

He said Spotsylvania has treated its deputies well and that he “thinks the world of” County Administrator Doug Barnes.

The deputies, Bryner said, “would like to be offered the opportunity to amicably be compensated the way they should have been” since the 2005 law took effect.

Spotsylvania’s Interim County Attorney James Benkahla declined to comment.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402