Virginia law enforcement officers file suit over unpaid overtime

A total of 71 law enforcement officers in Chesterfield County, Virginia, recently filed a lawsuit alleging they were not properly compensated for overtime hours, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The plaintiffs are citing a 2005 state law which established that overtime must be paid for the hours they worked between their standard 28-day pay cycle and the federal statutory maximum of 171 hours that was set by the Fair Labor Standards Act. This time is known as "gap time."

"We're not out to get some huge jackpot," the lead plaintiff, Master Deputy Sheriff Ben M. Lent, told the news source. "All we're asking for is what is owed to us."

Currently the exact figure is unknown, pending a final total of unpaid overtime. However, the suit seeks an amount "potentially exceeding $5 million," as well as $350,000 in punitive damages. A provision of state law would make the county liable for double the amount of each officer's compensation as well as attorneys' fees.

Several other Virginia jurisdictions have faced similar lawsuits in the past, and three - Albemarle, Loudoun and Wythe counties - settled with officers and paid back the money owed, according to the Chesterfield Observer.

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