WILLIAMSON – Legal counsel obtained by several officers employed by the city of Williamson for the Williamson Police Department (WPD) has requested records and employment files from the city and police chief in regard to alleged civil service and wage payment violations.
Sam Harrold III with McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner, L.C., has been retained to represent Lt. Grady Dotson, Sgt. John Hall, Sgt. James Spence, Ptlm. Bert Gibson, Ptlm. J. Marcum and Ptlm. Joshua Tincher. Correspondence from Harrold was sent to Williamson Police Chief Barry Blair and Williamson Mayor Robert Carlton.
The correspondence stated, “This law firm has been retained by the above named law enforcement officers who are employed by the City of Williamson. We have been retained to provide direct representation regarding civil service violations by you as the Chief of Police. In addition, we have been asked to investigate whether the department, under your administration, is violating overtime wage payment to officers.”
The correspondence explains that allegations have been made against Blair stating that he is creating a hostile work environment and requests that any communication regarding the investigation be directed to the law firm.
The letter states, “We have also been advised that as Chief of Police you are intentionally creating a hostile and dangerous work environment for our clients. Please be advised that because the above- named law enforcement officers have retained our services in this matter, we are demanding that all future communications regarding these violations go through this office…Be advised that any retaliatory actions by you against any of our clients will be met with immediate legal action.”
As part of the wage violation allegations, the correspondence also requested records, employment files, and overtime records be sent within ten days.
The letter states, “In order to best understand your administration of our clients, we are requesting a complete copy of each officer’s employment file maintained by you and the City of Williamson. Specifically, your response should include, but not be limited to, all performance and disciplinary records in each officer’s file, and all records evidencing hours worked and wages paid for each officer over the past five years. With regard to wage records for each officer, please include records evidencing holiday, overtime, special assignments and regular pay for hours worked. We are including for your records executed, ‘Authorizations’ for the release of our client’s employment records which they are entitled. Finally, if the Department maintains Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for discipline, those procedures need to be provided in your response so a fair evaluation can be completed.”
When questioned about the matter, Mayor Carlton stated, “The City of Williamson endeavors to and does to the knowledge of the City at all times provide the safest work place for all its employees and also pays every penny owed to the employees first and foremost. Any assertions to the contrary are misplaced and are accordingly denied. Payroll calculations along with itemized deductions are prepared and a copy given with each check to each employee by the City Clerk. All calculations for regular pay and overtime are on the paystubs for immediate review by the employee. Any safety concerns would be resolved by the immediate supervisor first. The City is unaware of any safety concerns that are out the ordinary to the position of police officer or any other positions.”
At the time of print, Police Chief Blair had not responded to requests for comment in regard to the allegations of civil and wage violations.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2279.)