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911 dispatchers, Unicoi County settlement approved in federal court

Jennifer Sprouse • Jul 31, 2012 at 4:53 PM

GREENEVILLE –– An overtime lawsuit settlement involving Unicoi County 911 dispatchers, the county and the Unicoi County Emergency Communications District was approved in federal court in Greeneville Tuesday, according to a news release.

On January 12, Unicoi County dispatchers filed a lawsuit against Unicoi County and the Unicoi County Emergency Communications District claiming they had failed to pay the dispatchers overtime for a three-year period.

Mediation for the case settled in June, awarding the dispatchers $121,850, but approval by either the Department of Labor or a federal court was required for dispatchers to receive the overtime damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

United States District Judge Ronnie Greer approved the settlement and ordered that the case be dismissed with full prejudice, leaving both the plaintiffs and the defendants responsible for their own attorney’s fees and costs. Greer said in his written statement that the court will continue to have jurisdiction over the case until Unicoi County and Unicoi County Emergency Communications District have made all payments to the plaintiffs as agreed upon in the settlement.

According to the release, Robert L. Bowman, an attorney from Knoxville who represented the 911 dispatchers, said he was happy the court approved the settlement.

“The settlement is fair and just, and it adequately compensates my clients for the overtime compensation they were owed,” Bowman said.

Before the lawsuit was filed, the Unicoi County Commission and 911 Board had agreed to pay the dispatchers around $30,000 in back pay to avoid going to court, but Bowman, after reviewing the time and pay records, said the money owed far exceeded $30,000.

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