- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A federal jury ruled in favor of hundreds of jail employees who say they’ve been underpaid by Metro Nashville government.

The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/1WoIUsV) on Tuesday the jury said the city benefited or was “unjustly enriched” when it paid correction officers an annual salary divided by their hours worked, resulting in less than the hourly wage listed.

More than 850 current and past Davidson County Sheriff’s Office correction officers sued Metro government over $7.04 million in back wages they say they’re owed, dating back to 2006.

Attorney David Garrison says he hopes the ruling is a catalyst for Metro to change its payment plan.

“Because this case involves how Metro is currently paying its correctional officers, we hope that the jury’s verdict will lead to serious changes at Metro ensuring that these workers are paid fairly and in accordance with the law,” Garrison said. “The correctional officers - who perform some of the most difficult and thankless work in Metro government - were pleased to have their day in court and feel vindicated.”

Metro Director of Law Saul Soloman responded in a prepared statement.

“We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict because we believe the intent of the pay plan is clear,” he said. “Correctional officers were paid what they should have been, and the bill for anything more than that would need to be paid by the taxpayers.”

A statement from the sheriff’s office says the city “contends that it has paid correctional officers appropriately under the Pay Plan and is considering an appeal if the verdict remains intact.”

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Kevin H. Sharp will decide in a second phase of the trial how much money Metro government should repay employees.

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Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com

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