Overtime pay to be held until court issues ruling

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By Susan Sharp

While the county finance department waits for clarification on what constitutes an administrative employee versus a non- administrative employee, a court order has been issued in the matter.

In August county attorney Joe Coker filed the question in Campbell County Chancery Court.

That filing asked Chancellor Billy Joe White to decide what the decisive element is between the two classifications. Currently, the distinction is overtime pay. Any county employee who receives overtime compensation may not be categorized as administrative, according to earlier court filings.

Coker has also requested that White determine who has the power to make the decision regarding the employee’s status.

Until White rules on the issue the overtime pay for the sole employee who is classified as administrative but earning overtime will be held by the clerk and master’s office.

White signed an order last week that said any compensation claimed for the county jail administrator’s position is to be paid to the clerk and master’s office. From that point, the money will be placed in an interest bearing account and held until a determination is made on this case.

Joe Perkins is currently the jail administrator.

A review of the court’s record in this matter details correspondence between county finance director Jeff Marlow and Sheriff Gary Perkins. Earlier this year, Marlow requested all department heads identify the employees in their branches that were classified as holding administrative positions, according to court records.

Perkins’ response said his department had two people working in administrative capacities, himself and Captain Don Farmer.

However, Marlow took a different view on the subject. After reviewing an employee change form submitted by Perkins in September 2006, Marlow told Gary Perkins that Joe Perkins had been promoted when he was placed in that position, the court file said. Joe Perkins’ promotion was accompanied by a $7,180 a year raise. And with that monetary increase was the expectation Joe Perkins would perform “administrative duties associated with the operation of the jail,” the letter went on to say. Marlow added that other factors aside from the position held by the employee had to be considered. However, the duties the employee is expected to carry out plays a part as well.

Essentially, Joe Perkins could not hold an administrative position and earn overtime compensation, Marlow said.

The discourse between the two continued for several weeks.

Marlow said Gary Perkins could retain a jail administrator in his department but with modifications. The base salary for the job would be increased, going forward, to $46,892 a year salary for Joe Perkins.

The second option presented to the sheriff was he could elect to eliminate the position. By choosing this option, Joe Perkins would be demoted to a non- administrative employee but still have the ability to earn overtime pay.

When Marlow presented the sheriff with his options, he further said that as of that date, Joe Perkins would no longer receive overtime payments, according to documents filed with petition.

Records obtained from the Campbell County Finance Department through the Freedom of Information Act indicate Joe Perkins earned $14,121.88 in overtime during the 2008 calendar year.

 “I have no intentions of following your recommendations as you have presented them,” the sheriff wrote in a June 25 letter.

As the stalemate between the two men continued, Coker stepped in with the August filing.

Along with last week’s order was notification that Gary Perkins had retained Knoxville attorney James A.H. Bell.

Bell had informed the clerk and master’s office that “a very heavy trial schedule” would preclude him from acting in this matter until February 2010 “or possibly later,” the court file said.

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