Turlock Aquatic Staff Overpaid, City Wants Money Back

On June 22, 2010 the Turlock City Council approved reducing the hourly wage paid to recreation part-time staff by $1 where applicable effective July 1, 2010. The full $1 reduction would not occur if it brought an employee’s hourly rate below minimum wage or below the lowest pay scale of their job’s classification.

On August 2, 2010 the aquatic part-time staff was notified of this decision and was told the reduction had not been taken out so a retroactive reduction would be taken out of their August 5, 2010 paycheck.
 
The mistake was clearly on the City of Turlock management’s side but the aquatic staff believes that they weren’t even notified of the salary reduction and doesn’t believe it’s fair to notify them only 3 days before the deducted money would show up on their expected paycheck total.
 
The aquatic staff also cites the fact that they signed contracts with the City of Turlock at the beginning of the year for salary amounts of about $9 to $11.
 
As far as the short notice of the retroactive pay reduction, Interim Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Maintenance Manager Alison Van Guilder said that the City was dealing with the employees who are going to experience an unexpected one-time pay reduction on a case by case situation but that some employees don’t have many paychecks left in their seasonal aquatic employment to ease the one-time hit.
 
The last day of Pitman and Turlock being open is this Friday, but the pool at Columbia will continue to be open until later this month with weekend sessions.
 
Interim Parks Manager Van Guilder said that the situation is unfortunate but that her Recreation Division did not have the authority to spend that extra money.
 
“Because Council did take action it, we have to correct it because basically the funds they were paid were not approved,” said Interim Recreation Manager Alison Van Guilder.
 
The part-time aquatic staff believes more than just the unfairness and unprofessionalism of the situation but has even suggested in a letter written to their City of Turlock Management that the lack of notification and withdrawal of salary funds without the permission may be illegal. 
 
City of Turlock Aquatic part-time staff members have reached out for legal advice and referenced their reasons for believing what the City is doing may be illegal.
 
Van Guilder said that those potential allegations would have to be go through City Attorney Phaedra Norton who is out of the office until August 9th.
 
The Modesto Bee and CBS13 News reported that City Manager Roy Wasden has put the retroactive deductions on hold now until the City Attorney can confirm the legalities taking back the overpaid salaries.
 
 
About 30 aquatic part-time staff members signed this letter below:
 
Date: August 2, 2010
 
To: Allison Van Guilder, Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Division Interim Manager
 
From: All Part-Time Aquatic Staff
 
Re: Hourly Pay Reduction
 
 
 
On August 2, 2010, we, the part-time aquatics staff of the City of Turlock, were informed of a retroactive hourly pay reduction of $1.00/hour (effective July 1st, 2010) resulting in a deduction of our August 5th, 2010 paycheck. The Turlock City Council voted on and approved this wage reduction on June 22, 2010, however, this action was not brought to our attention until the morning of August 2nd. We have been in contact with the Labor Relations Board Enforcement Branch who have informed us that employers may reduce their employees’ wages as long as they are given written notification on the day the reduction is scheduled to go into effect. According to the Department of Industrial Relations for the State of California (www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=lab&group=00001-01000&file=200-243), Labor Code Section 221 states: "It shall be unlawful for any employer to collect or receive from an employee any part of wages theretofore paid by said employer to said employee." We, the part-time aquatics staff of the City of Turlock, have received wages from the City of Turlock, and it is unlawful for the City of Turlock, as our employer to collect or receive any part of the wages received. The Labor Relations Board also verbally affirmed the illegality of retroactively adjusting employees’ wages. In addition, Labor Code 224 "clearly prohibits any deduction from an employee’s wages which is not either authorized by the employee in writing or permitted by law" (www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_deductions.htm). We did not give written authorization for this deduction to the City of Turlock.
 
We feel it is necessary to mention that the part-time aquatic staff already received a pay-cut this June when returning employees were not given a raise upon their re-hiring, as opposed to in previous years. Also, new-hires started at a lower rate of pay than in previous summers. We were made aware of this cut in pay at our mandatory staff inservice training on June 16-17, 2010 when we also signed our contracts stating our current rate of pay.
 
The employees listed below are in contact with an attorney and are prepared to file a claim through the California Labor Relations Board in response to the above mentioned retroactive pay deduction.
 
 
Respectfully,
 
 
The Part-Time Aquatics Staff
City of Turlock, Recreation Division

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