Woman says Kanawha school board violated labor laws

By Kyla Asbury | Mar 25, 2015

CHARLESTON - A woman is suing the Kanawha County Board of Education for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and failing to pay her for all her time worked.


CHARLESTON - A woman is suing the Kanawha County Board of Education for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and failing to pay her for all her time worked.


Debora Rose was employed by the defendant and at all times during her employment, she faithfully and accurately swiped her personally-identifying card at the appropriate times so as to record only time for which she permitted to work by the defendant, according to a complaint filed March 4 in the federal court.


Rose claims she has also followed the directions of her immediate supervisor and has swiped in and out upon the beginning and ending of each individual task throughout the day.


For a period of time, Rose kept and maintained her own, hand-written and accurate records of the times at which she would swipe her card through the electronic time clock, according to the suit. Rose began making her own records when she suspected she was not being paid for all the hours she was actually working.


Rose claims her practice of making her own records of her swipe times is well-known among the other non-exempt employees in the defendant's Elkview Bus Garage since this practice has occasionally and momentarily interfered with the others employees' access to the time clock as she would write down her swipe times.


There is a video camera focused on the time clock, which was placed there for the apparent purpose of recording activity at the time clock, according to the suit.


Rose claims the video camera, assuming that it imprints a time stamp, would supposed her hand-written notations of the times she maintains she has swiped in and out upon beginning and ending work assignments.


On Oct. 22, Rose requested a print-out of the individual employee timesheet generated by her own time clock swipes with her supervisor's edits and approvals of the time recorded, according to the suit.


Rose claims Peggy Whitaker, her supervisor, did so, but with hand-written notes on it challenging some of Rose's time entries that had already previously been approved.


When Rose compared the print out with her hand-written notes, the print out revealed no fewer than 28 instances over the course of 55 working days on which her time clock swipes were reduced or eliminated altogether, according to the suit.


Rose claims almost immediately upon her request for the print-out, Whitaker pursued a pattern of conduct in violation of the defendants' own policies and undertaken in retaliation for her notification to Whitaker of her belief that she was not being paid properly.


When Rose requested three consecutive days off, using her accrued personal  leave, Whitaker approved one day and denied the others, according to the suit.


Rose claims she took sick leave for the other two days in full compliance with Policy G05A's definition of when such leave is permissible and did not initially provide a medical or doctor's excuse, as the defendant's policy was not required for less than three days of sick leave. She did obtain medical documentation justifying her use of sick leave for those two days and provided that to the defendant.


On Nov. 14, the defendant suspended Rose's employment with pay, citing an alleged violation of the employee attendance policy, according to the suit. The paid suspension was then converted to a two-day unpaid disciplinary suspension.


Rose claims Whitaker's conduct in harassing and retaliating against her and in altering her time records was done in willful and knowing disregard of the Fair Labor Standards Act.


The defendant also violated the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, according to the suit.


Rose is seeking compensatory damages. She is being represented by Mark A. Toor.


The case is assigned to District Judge Thomas E. Johnston.


U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number: 2:15-cv-02473

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