County Responds, Round 1

Hardeman County Sheriff’s Department employees were given answers this past week to a lawsuit filed in 2019 against Hardeman County.
The suit, filed May 29, was filed against the Hardeman County Government, including the Hardeman County Sheriff’s Department, the Hardeman County Commission, and Mayor Jimmy Sain, saying overtime pay was due employees Patrick D. Perry, Justin Bryant, Thomas Cody Naylor, Cheri Baker, Chris Wilkerson, Michael Hatch, and Ethan Vasquez for work performed for the Hardeman County Sheriff’s Department.
The suit was filed by William C. Sessions of Heaton and Moore, P.C. of Memphis.
The answer, filed by W. Carl Spining and Michael T. Schmitt of Ortale Kelley Law Firm in Nashville, contends no county agency has reason to answer the suit, stating that the only defendant that can legally be sued is Sheriff John Doolen, as an individual.
“Defendants affirmatively assert that they are not Plaintiffs’ “employer,” as that term is defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. § 203(d). Defendants affirmatively assert that John Doolen is Plaintiffs’ employer and he is individually liable for any alleged violations of the FLSA. Doolen had the sole power to hire and fire, discipline, control work schedules, approve overtime for his employees, including Plaintiffs, and other issues concerning personnel decisions and had the power to instruct his employees on the proper procedures for submitting overtime and claiming compensatory time. Furthermore, Doolen actively instructed his employees to withhold information or not respond to requests for information from the county, which was necessary to confirm the amount of overtime/compensatory time being claimed. Therefore, Doolen is individually and solely liable for any alleged violations of the FLSA.”
The document contends that since Sheriff Doolen as an individual is not named as a defendant in the suit, it should be dismissed.
Next week: The county answer to John Doolen vs. Jimmy Sain, filed July 16.