IG: Jefferson Parish Paying Too Much OT To Exempt Employees

GRETNA, LA (AP) — An audit finds Jefferson Parish paid as much as $1.5 million in a variety of unnecessary overtime expenses in 2013

         NOLA.com/ The Times-Picayune’s Ben Myers reports a parish inspector general's audit examined overtime, standby, callout and other non-regular pay to employees who are not entitled to such additional compensation under federal regulations.

         These employees, considered "exempt" under the Fair Labor Standards Act, made up only 5.8 percent of the parish's 3,391-person workforce. Yet exempt employees accounted for 22 percent of the parish $6.9 million in overtime expenses, not including pension obligations, according to the audit.

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         Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee, writing on behalf of Parish President John Young's administration, noted that "there is no legal impediment" to paying overtime to exempt employees. Inspector General David McClintock said Wednesday that position "is distinctly different from prudent fiscal policy."

         McClintock's verbal aside to the Ethics and Compliance Commission — which oversees the inspector general's office — was muted compared to the office's position expressed in the audit.

         "Accountability and fiscal responsibility is not, for the purposes of this office, a determination of whether there is a 'legal impediment,'" the audit states. "The Parish's position that if an action is not illegal, it is acceptable, is not a standard which this office is willing to accept."

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         The audit singles out stand-by pay as a particularly excessive expense, for exempt and regular employees alike. Nearly $2 million, or 29 percent, of all overtime payments went to employees on standby. Although federal law does not require compensation for standby, the parish pays one hour of salary for every six hours of standby.

         Exempt employees appeared to receive a disproportionate share of standby payments, at least when it came to those receiving the largest amounts. Of the 25 employees who received $10,000 or more in stand-by payments, 11 — or 44 percent — were exempt.

         For more information

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