Dept. of Labor: Town must pay OT

Town ordered by DOL to pay overtime for 7 employees; Confusion over whether Colonie owes back wages

— The US Department of Labor has ruled the town must begin giving overtime to several employees working within the town of Colonie but there still seems to be the unanswered issue of whether the town owes any back pay.

In 2009, the United Public Service Employee Union had sat down with the Town of Colonie to begin renegotiating the contracts of its administrative group the union represents. It realized that 14 employees were being exempt from being paid for overtime hours of time and a half, according to UPSEU Regional Coordinator Kathy Wright.

“It’s generally a litigious relationship, they want to litigate everything,” Wright said. “It’s very difficult to try and get them to work with us on an issue. Everything has to be grieved or litigated.”

This didn’t gel with the union as it said there were employees with similar titles in other units within the town that were being paid premium overtime. Wright said UPSEU sat down with the town to try and resolve the situation but the town wasn’t being receptive.

“They did not listen and dug right in,” she said. “We filed a complaint with the Department of Labor and provided extensive information and job descriptions. The Department of Labor launched an investigation in October of last year, came back and said seven of the 14 titles were exempt and the other seven should be receiving over time at a higher rate.”

This was corroborated with Rosemarie Newton, the director of the Human Resources Department in the Town of Colonie. She said the town had to do a review of 22 titles. There were 16 titles the Department of Labor identified as exempt and that six titles should be considered as non-exempt. She said this was due to the interpretation for employees working with computers changing over the years with the evolution of technology. With all of these, the department of labor did not see any reason for back pay.

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