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Justice for Maryland public safety workers whose timesheets were illegally changed

Council 3 Executive Director Patrick Moran addresses the Maryland Board of Public Works. Photo: Council 3
Justice for Maryland public safety workers whose timesheets were illegally changed
By AFSCME Maryland Council 3 ·

BALTIMORE – Public safety workers whose timesheets were illegally altered by the state of Maryland are getting justice.

Thousands of current and former employees of Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) will share a total of $13 million after an investigation by the federal Department of Labor resulted in a settlement with the state.

Spurred by complaints from AFSCME Maryland Council 3, the Labor Department focused on allegations that the state was altering workers’ timesheets to pay them less – a violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

“This news is a big step for us to be able to move forward with the pay that we know we are entitled to after constantly being told we weren’t. We’ve faced understaffing, constant changes in policies, and mental and physical stress in this job. This money is long overdue,” said Dorian Johnson, a correctional officer sergeant at the Chesapeake Detention Facility in Baltimore.

Council 3, the union representing these workers, filed multiple complaints with the Labor Department on behalf of all DPSCS hourly employees.

“Hearing this news makes me finally feel like the correct things are being done. We were able to make this investigation happen because so many of us stood up together to say something was wrong with our paychecks. Now we’ll finally get back some of the money that we were entitled to in the first place,” said Oluwadamilola Olaniyan, a correctional officer sergeant at Jessup Correctional Institution in Jessup.

Brittany Cozart, a correctional officer at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore, said workers should be compensated for the exact amount of time they put into the job.

“Working within the institutions, there are a lot of reasons why you could be staying beyond your shift. We should be paid for all the hard work that we are doing, for every minute,” Cozart said.

Under the settlement, affected workers will receive a monetary amount that will vary depending on how each worker’s hours were rounded up or down by DPSCS and when workers punched in and out on their timecards. The settlement covers a period of up to three years based on the Labor Department’s findings for employees who worked between October 2018 and August 2021.

The Maryland Board of Public Works – composed of the governor and the state’s treasurer and the comptroller – approved the settlement payment on Wednesday, July 5. According to media reports, nearly 4,000 people would receive payments.

“For years, we were seeing the actual time that we were working disappear from our paychecks. Now, hearing this news, it feels like we are finally being heard, especially with all of the overtime, staffing shortages and stress that we’re dealing with,” said Rownite Stevens, a correctional officer sergeant at Eastern Correctional Institution in Westover.

Council 3 Executive Director Patrick Moran thanked Gov. Wes Moore’s administration for “working with us to make these hardworking correctional officers whole.”

“These workers have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic,” Moran said. “They should never have had this time stolen from them in the first place if their paychecks had clear information about how many hours they worked and how much they were earning in a pay period. Moving forward, we will continue to demand better paycheck transparency from the state for our members.”

The investigation remains ongoing, and DPSCS has agreed to continue working with the federal Department of Labor and the Moore administration to review time sheets for all hourly DPSCS employees.

FAQ: DPSCS vs. DOL Wage Theft Settlement

For more information about the settlement, please go here.

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