Getting Paid

This is Mavrik Cop’s third and final issue from the long letter he sent a while back. I haven’t heard back from him, so I’m not sure if he got anything out of the first two issues I addressed, but I hope I was able to help with those issues and with this one as well.

It sounds like you have been applying your investigative skills toward your own employer. That can make for some interesting times. You are starting down the right road with this one. By that I mean you discovered a discrepancy in your pay; you checked with other officers to see if it was just a problem for you and you called it to the attention of the administrators. My first recommendation is simple. Make sure you have equal height and equal light between your front and rear sights. You must be on target with this one.

If you did the investigation and told them you did the investigation while you were off duty, you need to make sure that is the only time you investigated. When you’re taking on your own employer, you can’t have holes in your defense. Anyone who has been around police work and the agencies who employ cops knows that weird investigations can pop up out of nowhere. Suddenly, you took a look at your check book while on duty and they are gonna call it “mis-appropriation of public time” or “lying on your time card” by not taking a hour of vacation to investigate your pay when all you were really doing was checking your available funds. Believe me when I tell you they have time and resources. You are fighting against an entity that at the end of the day only sees you as a number. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t fix things, but it does mean that you need to mind your manners.

Another thing you need to check on is to find out who else in the village is being underpaid. It is quite plausible they are underpaying all their employees. This could be due to an oversight or it could be more sinister. There is always the possibility that someone inside the village is scooping off your pay and keeping it, but either way, it is super important for you to keep a track record of your investigation and of everyone you speak with about it. I would also track conversations by sending emails to confirm what was said. Then I would print every email and retain a copy for your own records.

Let’s change direction for a second. Just in case this was just an oversight and they are planning on getting all employees their due money, you need to know what to expect. First thing you should expect them to do is deny it on the basis of, “We didn’t make any mistakes, your math must be wrong.” After you finally convince them they did screw up, then you will have to wait for them to conduct some sort of internal investigation to determine what we just said—basically, that someone screwed up but there wasn’t any malicious intent and now they will decide what to do with that person and how to get people the money they are owed.

Next, they should start paying you the correct wage going forward. That is the smallest piece of the puzzle. You should also expect back pay to include every hour earned. That means they need to pay you the higher rate for overtime, holiday hours, vacation hours, special pays and everything else. This could take a while. I’m guessing their budget doesn’t have a line item for back pay for the whole department. They will also not be too interested in doing the calculation for all of that time. Plan on a whole lot of finger pointing and back room, closed door meetings. You should be able to get all of what is owed you, but based on how cities work, I wouldn’t plan on spending it on the kids for few years to come.

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