Government Fleet Top News

Workers Sue County In Overtime Dispute

July 28, 2004

TAMPA, FL — Two Hillsborough County employees sued the county in federal court this week, claiming they have been allegedly wrongly denied overtime pay for time spent commuting in a county vehicle, according to the Tampa Tribune newspaper on July 17.The two Public Works Department employees park their county vehicles at public locations each night rather than taking them home or leaving them at the work site. At issue is not the time spent driving between the parking location and home, but rather time spent from the work site to park the car. Their attorney says the employees should be compensated for that time, referring to an October memo sent by then-Human Resources Director Sharon Wall as justification for the employees' claim. That letter advises department directors that all hourly employees who pick up county vehicles "at remote locations" and proceed to work "should be compensated for this time." Failure to comply "could lead to severe penalties and fines." County officials said they would vigorously defend against the lawsuit and also sought to clarify the memo by Wall, who left the county a few weeks after sending it. Assistant County Attorney Stephen Todd said the memo does not define remote and people should not be compensated if they are not driving out of their way. The county allows some employees who use fleet vehicles to park them near home to reduce the need for a daily private commute into downtown and a return in a county car to the suburbs. "There is no legal requirement they be paid to commute to work," Todd said. After Wall's memo, county departments calculated potential costs of such reimbursement would top $700,000, Assistant County Administrator Carl Harness said. None of that has been paid, he said, because the county is seeking a detailed opinion from the U.S. Labor Department.

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