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$1.25 Million Settlement Against Tennessee County Over Sheriff’s Violations of Labor Law

Natasha Grayson, an employee of the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex (“MCCJC”), was the named plaintiff in the lawsuit, which was filed on July 2, 2019.

The suit named Madison County as the Defendant and sought to recover unpaid wages, overtime wages, liquefied damages, attorney’s fees, and statutory penalties under the FLSA on behalf of Grayson and other similarly situated current and former employees (Plaintiffs) of the Defendant. The suit alleged that Plaintiffs were hourly employees who worked eight-hour shifts, five days per week. But Defendant’s policies required Plaintiffs to arrive at the MCCJC and be ready for work 15 minutes before their shift began and to remain another 15 minutes after their shift ended. The Plaintiffs were not compensated for this time, and Defendant failed to log this time.

Since this period of 30 minutes each day was in excess of their 40 hour each week, Plaintiffs alleged the FLSA required they be compensated for that time at a rate of one and one-half times their regular hourly rate.

Sheriff Mehr attempted to evade responsibility by claiming the practice of requiring employees to show up early and stay late was in place long before he became sheriff. But Madison County Commissioner Doug Stephenson said the sheriff “is a constitutional officer and he’s responsible for this department — even if he has decided to whitewash it and not take responsibility for his mismanagement.”

The Madison County Commission amended the settlement to provide that $1 million of the payout will come from the sheriff’s budget. Plaintiffs were represented by attorney Michael L. Weinman of Weinman & Associates. The court awarded $375,000 in attorney’s fees.

In a pending, unrelated suit, Mehr sued the Madison County Commission to get $2.8 million added to his $22.2 million budget. The Commission says Mehr doesn’t need the additional money because he created unnecessary high-paying jobs for his wife and others. See: Grayson v. Madison County, Case No. 1:19-cv-1136-STA-tmp, U.S.D.C. (W.D. Tenn.). 


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Related legal case

Grayson v. Madison County