WAYNE – Four lawsuits filed by Wayne County Sheriff’s Department deputies claim the county commission made changes to their benefits package after they were hired.
The complaints also claim the 10 deputies agreed to what they consider lower wages because of the promised benefits package, which included payment of 90 percent of their health insurance premiums after 20 to 24 years of service regardless of age.
Sheria Maynard was the first to file her complaint against the Wayne County Commission. She says she left a job as a Mingo County Sheriff’s deputy in 1998 to accept a similar job in Wayne County because of the retirement medical benefits. She now serves as a sergeant.
Maynard says she wasn’t always given pay raises, but she said she continued her employment because of the benefit package.
She says in 2017, the county commission adopted a new retiree health program that provided payment of 50 percent of a retiree’s health insurance premium with 15 to 25 years of service after the age of 60.
Maynard says she could have retired in 2018 at age 52 and received the benefits of the package promised when she was hired. Now, she says she will have to work until 2024 to get the 50 percent package.
She calls the actions of the county commission were willful, negligent, outrageous, intentional and wrongful conduct. She says she has suffered great mental and physical anguish, public humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, fright, horror, grief, shame, anger, chagrin, disappointment, worry and nausea.
Maynard also claims the county commission has benefited from paying her at a lower rate than what she should have been paid for her services and wants compensation for that.
Another suit – filed by deputies Travis Williamson, Chris Booton, Sean Johnson, Chester Maynard, James Ward, Paul Baker and Aaron Farley – contains similar allegations.
“Over the years, pay raises were not given as a matter of course,” their complaint states. “The deputies would have to raise the issue before the commission, and negotiations would take place. The commission would not discuss the pay raises in an ordinary meeting wherein minutes would be kept; they would go into ‘special session’ in private.
“Every time these negotiations occurred, the commission’s main response was that the retirement health insurance at age 50 was a valuable part of their compensation. That if they would increase the hourly pay rate to what the deputies desired, they would have to cut health care benefits.
“The commission promised plaintiffs that if they accepted a lower amount of pay they would receive continued health care starting at age 50 upon retirement.”
So, the deputies say they agreed to the lower wages as a tradeoff.
Their complaint says the commission made a new rule in 2011 about new hires no longer receiving that benefit package. But, they say about 14 deputies are grandfathered in to the older plan.
Their complaint also mentions the change made in 2017 moving the age requirement to 60 instead of 50. It also notes that state code mandates that deputies “shall receive an annual salary increase in the sum of $5 per month for each year of service.”
“Plaintiffs have never received this statutory increase for each year of service,” the complaint states.
The seven deputies seek a declaratory judgment providing the healthcare benefits promised to them at age 50 or compensation for accepting a low wage, compensation for the state code mandate that hasn’t been followed, other damages and attorney fees.
A third complaint filed by deputy Wade R. Wellman and a fourth filed by deputy Nathan Triplett are similar to the one filed by the other seven deputies.
The one complaint by the seven deputies was filed by attorney Richard W. Weston of Weston Robertson in Huntington. The other three complaints were filed pro se.
Wayne Circuit Court case numbers 19-C-56 (Maynard), 19-C-57 (Williamson and others), 19-C-60 (Wellman) and 19-C-61(Triplett)