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Clayton deputy sues for overtime pay

By Daniel Silliman

A Clayton County sheriff's deputy who claims he is owed two-years and six-months of overtime pay, has filed a federal suit against the sheriff and the county.

Eddie Gore thinks his time-and-a-half pay was blocked by Board of Commissioners Chairman Eldrin Bell as part of an on-going dispute with Sheriff Victor Hill.

Gore was assigned to a task force with the Drug Enforcement Agency in May 2005, according to the suit he filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta. He was scheduled to work 40-hour weeks, but "routinely worked long overtime hours. Gore frequently worked as much as forty overtime hours per week," according to the lawsuit.

Gore first complained about his pay in January 2006, after about six months of receiving paychecks without the overtime.

He took the matter up with Capt. J.E. Antoine and Major Mark Harris, and they allegedly told him "they believed that someone in [the sheriff's office] was deliberately erasing Gore's overtime hours from the payroll system," according to the suit.

Antoine and Harris issued a memo, saying Gore was owed overtime, but a month later, nothing had happened, and Gore claims he took his grievance to the chief deputy.

The chief deputy, William "Tee" Cassells, told Gore "there had been 'nothing but problems' since Gore's transfer to the DEA Task Force," and Cassells threatened to demote him "back to Jail duty," Gore said in the lawsuit.

Gore claims he took his complaint to Hill, and the sheriff, along with his legal advisor, blamed the situation on Bell. "Hill admitted that Gore was owed overtime," Gore said in the suit, but "Bell refused to sign off on anything from the Sheriff's Office."

The legal advisor, Andres Marierose, allegedly told Gore there was no hope he would ever get any overtime pay from the county, and suggested the complaint be dropped.

Gore claims he went to Bell several times, and while the commission chairman acknowledged the money was owed, he allegedly said he wasn't going to pay Gore "one red penny," because "he did not believe Sheriff Hill should have assigned Gore to the DEA Task Force," according to the lawsuit.

Gore left the task force in November 2007, two years and six months after he joined it.

In his federal suit, filed this month, Gore alleges that the sheriff's office and the county violated the Fair Labor and Standards act. He asks for three years' worth of back pay, damages and "equitable and just" relief.

Neither the county, nor the sheriff's office has responded to the lawsuit.