Overtime lawsuit: Dozens of officers claim back pay

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The battle is headed to court and it could cost Henrico and Richmond millions. 90 Henrico County officers are the latest to file a lawsuit. They join nearly 550 Richmond officers who say the city and the county are not following state law.

This is all stems from a 2005 state law that set up a new rate at which overtime pay kicks in for police officers. Attorneys for the officers say some localities like Richmond and Henrico have ignored the law. This week, Richmond notified State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli it's going to challenge the law's constitutionality- which sets up an interesting battle. It was Cuccinelli who created this law.

"The biggest lawbreaker in America is government," Cuccinelli said.

That was Ken Cuccinelli in November...and it could mean an uphill battle for localities like Richmond.

He told NBC12 he does not believe there's a misunderstanding here. He believes Richmond and Henrico simply chose to ignore the law.

"There is a state law in place and there is a backstop of accountability but that local government is going to be driven up to the backstop and the way that happens is in court," he said.

Richmond is fighting the suit filed last year by nearly 550 of its officers and intends to fight the constitutionality of the 2005 law. The state law was championed by Cuccinelli. It says officers will be paid time and half for every hour worked over 160 in a month long pay period. That's a big difference from a federal law that mandates law enforcement be paid time and a half for anything over 171 hours.

90 current and retired officers from Henrico filed suit late last week- joining the fight started by Richmond officers. Both groups are demanding back overtime pay, penalties and interest. If the Richmond officers win their suit- the city could have to come up with 38 million dollars.

Henrico County did pay up about 3.5 million, but Attorney Harris Butler says he decided to file because "the county recently indicated that it had paid all that it was going to pay and we would have to pursue remedies in courts."

A jury trial is scheduled for June in the Richmond case. Henrico County was just served and still has time to respond in court. No trial date is set.

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