16 in police agency sue Havre de Grace officials

October 02, 1994|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

Sixteen uniformed members of the Havre de Grace Police Department have sued the mayor and City Council for compensation they allegedly are owed for daily roll-call attendance before and after their shifts, and for court appearances on their days off.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Harford Circuit Court, asks for $500,000, which includes $100,000 in compensatory damages, $300,000 sought in punitive damages and $100,000 in attorney's fees.

H. Wayne Norman Jr., the Bel Air attorney who represents the 14 officers and two communications operators who are plaintiffs in the suit, said the department discontinued the alleged unfair policies about six months ago.

State law allows the plaintiffs to go back only three years to seek to collect alleged lost pay, he said. The lawsuit contended that the plaintiffs were under contract for eight-hour shifts, but were required to report 15 minutes early for roll call before each daily shift and to remain 15 minutes after each shift ended.

Some of the plaintiffs also were allegedly owed for hours they were required to appear in court on their days off.

"The law is clear that you must be compensated time and one-half when required to come in on your day off," said Mr. Norman. The officers were given straight time off in compensation, he said.

The amounts of money allegedly owed to each plaintiff were not specified, but the lawsuit indicates they they will present evidence of what they are owed at trial. Plaintiffs also contended that the Mayor Gunther Hirsch and the Havre de Grace City Council breached their contract with each officer and had violated state labor and employment laws.

Robert Lang, the Havre de Grace city manager, said Thursday that it would be "premature to comment [about the lawsuit] in any detail at this time."

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