ST. MARTINVILLE, La. (KLFY) – Are federal wage violations affecting City of St. Martinville employees? One law firm is investigating just that after some workers contacted it.

The firm even put an advertisement in the local paper asking for any other affected employees to come forward, and already attorneys on both sides are disputing its allegations.

Whitehead Law Firm states in the advert “It appears the allegations are three-fold”.

  1. Failure to timely pay overtime wages
  2. Failure to pay for certain work done outside of regular duty hours and
  3. Failure to pay employees who were mandated to 24-hour duty during Hurricane Ida.

Attorney Jack K. Whitehead Jr. added “There are also allegations of a Hostile Work Environment”, particularly in the police department.

“They are supposed to serve and protect. They should be paid reasonably and paid properly and paid fairly. There’s so much rancor going on. It’s unbelievable,” Whitehead told News 10.

But St. Martinville city attorney Allan Durand believes the pay allegations are a matter of confusion. He says while most everyone is legally bound to a 40-hour workweek, “There’s an expectation in the federal wage and standards law for law enforcement.”

Durand says law enforcement can work on a two-week pay period instead of a one-week period and can work 86 in that two-week period before they are entitled to overtime. Although state law is more generous allowing non-supervisory officers 40-hour workweeks, Durand states precedence dictates that only applies to cities with a population larger than 12,500 people.

“St. Martinville is less than half of that size and has never been close to that size”, Durand stated.

That answer doesn’t address every allegation Whitehead is bringing though. Labor and Employment Law cases have been Whitehead’s specialty, and he asks any current or former employees of the city to contact his office with their paystubs ready. Damages can be sought for violations made in the past three years.

“I know what I’m doing, and I know how to do it, and I just like to help people. That’s what I do day in and day out,” Whitehead asserted. “This is not my first rodeo. Let’s saddle up and get going.”

Any acts of retaliation against employees seeking their fair wages is prohibited under federal law Whitehead added. You can read the full advertisement from Teche News below.