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JAILERS, DISPATCHERS TO GET COMPENSATION

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Almost 250 county jailers and dispatchers will get either money or paid time off to compensate them for showing up 10 minutes early to work for the past two years.

Salt Lake County officials decided Wednesday to offer two years of back pay or comp time after jailers filed a class action suit in U.S. District Court earlier this month.The county could have to pay more than $300,000 to 200 jailers and 40 dispatchers, estimated Brian Barnard, attorney for the employees.

But county officials aren't kicking numbers around yet. Instead, the county will ask the U.S. Department of Labor to analyze the situation and tell the county how much it owes, said Rod Norton, public information officer at the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.

The county will then decide whether to cut a check or whittle time from employees' schedules to compensate them, he said.

Barnard is pleased with the county's offer, but he wants more. The federal law says an employer could have to pay three years of back pay, Barnard said. If the violation was deliberate, the employer could be required to pay double damages for those years.

"The statute says if you cheat someone out of 10 minutes' time and you get caught, you have to pay them for 20 minutes of time. We are hoping to collect that penalty," he said.

Further, an employer can be required to provide comp time for an additional five years of violations, he said.

"Mr. Barnard wants to go back eight years. We want to go back two years," Norton said.

Barnard earlier estimated that those eight years could cost the county $1.8 million.

Dispatchers and jailers have been showing up early to work for several years. The employees were required to attend a brief roll call before their shifts started. The county thought it could require the unpaid attendance for anything less than 15 minutes, Norton said.

Frustrated jailers hired Barnard last summer to solve the problem. When the county ignored a letter from Barnard, the jailers sued. The county promptly agreed to start paying the employees.

"The cost of paying them from now forward should be negligible," said Norton. "We are going to try to take care of it in the way we do our scheduling."