UNION - Six Monroe County Sheriff's Department deputies have are fighting a mandatory 10-day layoff imposed on them by the Monroe County Commission and Sheriff Robert V. Mann.

In a lawsuit filed in Monroe Circuit Court, the six allege their layoff, which was to start May 24, violates the Wage Payment and Collection Act.

The Commission claims financial reasons are to blame for the layoff. Plaintiffs David King, Allen Hunt, Jeffrey Greer, Scott Miller, Michael Heller and Marcel Galuszek, represented by Charleston attorney John Dascoli of The Segal Law Firm, say it puts everyone at risk.

"Count two of our complaint talks about really reducing the law enforcement and protection provided to the county, both as employees and citizens with families in the county," Dascoli said.

"There is a constitutional obligation to find protection. Count one does point out that there is a mechanism for laying off in tough economic times, which they did not do."

Judge Robert A. Irons initially sided with the deputies, granting that the plaintiffs will not have to take the mandatory leave until a decision by the court. He took himself off the case because one of the plaintiffs is his bailiff, but Dascoli said everyone agreed to keep him.

The Monroe County Commission reportedly borrowed $40,000 from a bank to make payroll.

"It depends on who you ask," Dascoli said. "They agreed to keep this order in place all the way until September. They say somehow they can pay for these folks until September."

Though financial reasons are to blame for the layoff, the lawsuit contends that members of the Commission, Mann, the County Clerk and the Tax assessor have all granted themselves raises, effective July 1, "creating and contributing to the fiscal situation that has led the defendants to take this drastic and illegal action."

Dascoli also states that forcing the deputy sheriffs to take mandatory leave without pay is a violation of west Virginia Code.

"In the present case the actions of the defendants violate West Virginia Code… because there is no provision… allowing for mandatory leave without pay for deputy sheriffs," the complaint says. "Rather, such section allows for a reduction in force of deputy sheriffs."

Monroe Circuit Court case number 06-C-47

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