$1.25 Million Settlement Reached in FLSA Suit by TN Correctional Employees for Unpaid Work Before and After Scheduled Shifts

Madison County, Tennessee, has agreed to a $1.25 million settlement with over 100 county employees following an FLSA lawsuit filed earlier this year. In July 2019, Natasha Grayson filed the suit in the U.S. District Court from the Western District of Tennessee on behalf of herself and other similarly situated county employees. The suit quickly grew to include over 100 additional plaintiffs over the past several months.

Grayson—an employee at the county’s jail—alleged the county had a practice of requiring correctional officers and other jail employees arrive at work at least 15 minutes prior to their scheduled shifts in order to “attend roll call and obtain information from supervisors and the employees who had worked the prior shift regarding any issues that needed to be addressed at shift change.” Additionally, Grayson’s complaint alleges that jail employees regularly worked between 15-20 minutes beyond their scheduled shifts without compensation.  

Allegations like these are not unique to law enforcement or correctional officers. Virtually all public safety employers could easily find themselves in a very similar situation. Managing wage and hour issues for employees that work varying shifts covering twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, present unique challenges for public agency employers.

The FLSA requires employers pay employees for all hours suffered or permitted to work. This includes the time spent working before and after scheduled work shifts. Very often employers mistakenly believe an employee’s work schedule can be utilized as a record of actual hours worked. In reality, it is the employer’s responsibility to keep and maintain accurate records of the “actual” hours worked for all overtime eligible employees.

Here is a copy of Grayson’s complaint, settlement motion, and the final order.

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