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Class-action lawsuit filed against Nassau for comp time

Nassau County was served this week with a class-action lawsuit seeking millions of dollars for allegedly not paying terminated employees for their accumulated compensatory time.

The suit, filed last month in federal court, was initiated by two women terminated by the Department of Social Services Dec. 31. Social workers Patricia Johnson and Deborah Reed had been with DSS four-plus years.

"The county engaged in a systematic scheme, in violation of law, by taking monies earned as employee compensation for overtime and regular pay without legal justification," said Garden City attorney James Vagnini. He set the county liability at around $2 million. The administration of County Executive Edward Mangano, who took office in January, had no comment on the case.

Plaintiff lawyers said that when the women asked about payment for their compensatory time, they were told that county policy is not to pay those with less than 10 years service.

"That's outrageous," said lawyer Sara Kane. "These people worked overtime and either elected to or were forced to take compensatory time instead of cash. Normally, that time would be used, say, instead of sick or vacation days. But when that option is no longer available, of course they must be paid for it. They worked for it."

The lawyers said the county violated the Federal Labor Standards Act as well as the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as state laws.

In addition, they said, the women are suing not only on their own behalf, but also for all county employees who accumulated compensatory time and retired or were let go within three years before this action was filed but did not receive the full payment for that time.

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