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Former Coffee County Judicial Commissioners File Suit against the County

Former Coffee County judicial commissioners Robert “Bob” Bellamy and Robert “Bobby” Trail have filed suit against the Coffee County government under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Bellamy worked for the Department from 2014 until he transferred to courthouse officer on March 16, 2021. Plaintiff Trail worked for the Department from 2013 until his retirement on December 23, 2020.

The suit states that from 2004 until January 1, 2020, employers were required to pay employees $455/week to satisfy the salary basis test for exempt employees under the FLSA. Beginning January 1, 2020, employers were required to pay employees $684/week to satisfy the salary basis test for exempt employees under the FLSA. The suit adds that in 2018, Defendant paid Plaintiff Bellamy $882.69 every two weeks. In 2019, Defendant paid Plaintiff Bellamy $882.69 every two weeks. In 2020, Defendant paid Plaintiff Bellamy $909.15 every two weeks. In 2021, Defendant paid Plaintiff Bellamy $1,118.15 every two weeks until his transfer. From January 1, 2018, to the date of Plaintiff Bellamy’s retirement, Defendant did not pay Plaintiff Bellamy the minimum salary pursuant to the FLSA’s salary basis test to qualify Plaintiff Bellamy as an “exempt” employee.

The federal lawsuit states the Defendant paid Plaintiff Trail $13.97/hour, or $558.80/week. From January 1, 2020, until Plaintiff Trail’s retirement, Defendant did not pay Plaintiff Trail the minimum salary pursuant to the FLSA’s salary basis test to qualify Plaintiff Trail as an “exempt” employee. Plaintiffs regularly worked in excess of 40 hours per week. In fact, Plaintiffs regularly worked 48-72 hours per week, depending on their schedule. Plaintiffs were told on more than one occasion that they were “hourly” employees but would be paid as if they were “salaried” employees. Pursuant to County policy, each County employee was to receive 13 days of paid holidays; however, Plaintiffs, as judicial commissioners, did not receive the 13 days of paid holidays. Hourly employees who work more than forty (40) hours per week are entitled to overtime compensation for those hours worked in excess of forty (40).

The suit continued; Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, “overtime must be compensated at a rate not less than one and one-half times the regular rate at which the employee is actually employed” during the first forty (40) hours of work. In the alternative, employees of municipalities can be given comp time. Plaintiffs were regularly and repeatedly not compensated for overtime hours worked. For the time periods described herein, Defendant is not entitled to the benefits of any FLSA exemptions because they failed to satisfy the salary basis test. Defendants’ intentional failure to pay Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees overtime wages are willful violations of the FLSA. The forgoing facts are incorporated by reference as if fully stated herein.

Plaintiffs bring the following cause of action against Defendant: A. Willful failure to pay overtime wages in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938; and B. Unjust enrichment/Quantum Meruit/Breach of Contract for unpaid wages, including holiday pay.

Plaintiffs pray for the following relief: A declaratory judgment that Defendant has violated the overtime provisions of the FLSA. A declaratory judgment that Defendant’s violations of the FLSA were willful. An award to Plaintiffs in the amount of unpaid compensation to be proven at trial. An award to Plaintiffs of interest and liquidated damages in an amount equal to the overtime compensation shown to be owed to them pursuant to law. An award to Plaintiffs of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, pursuant to law. An award to Plaintiffs for failing to compensate them for 13 days of paid holidays pursuant to County policy. A trial by jury. An award of such other and further legal and equitable relief as may be appropriate.

Attorneys Terry A. Fann and Kerry Knox represent the plaintiffs. Robert Huskey is the county attorney.

*Note: This is only one side of the legal issue

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

Lucky Knott

Lucky Knott

One of Southern Tennessee's most experienced and recognized news broadcasters and play-by-play sportscasters. Current news director for On Target News and manager of Rooster 101.5 FM. Knott can be heard on 93.9 The Duck, The Rooster 101.5 and Whiskey Country 105.1 and 95.9. He is currently the play by play voice of the Coffee County Red Raiders on The Rooster 101.5. Lucky has done play-by-play for 3,500 sports events on Radio & TV. He also served 4 years as the Public Information Officer for the Coffee Co. Sheriff's Dept. and taught Radio/TV for 6 years at Grundy County High School.

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