Law Department Paid Overtime to Ineligible Workers

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    The New York City Law Department paid $186,805 in overtime to workers who weren’t even eligible to collect overtime payments, according to an audit released Friday by City Comptroller John C. Liu.

    Liu said 46 workers who earned more than $74,079 per year were granted overtime pay, even though their salaries exceeded the Office of Labor Relations earning cap.

    A group of 16 employees took home the majority -- $172,053 – of the overtime pay.  The Law Department has refused to recoup the money.

    “It is the Law Department’s argument that the employees were not responsible for acquiring overtime waivers, so they should not be penalized,” said Matthew Sweeney, a comptroller spokesman.

    The Law Department disputed the audit.
     
    "We vigorously disagree with the comptroller's assertions with respect to the Law Department's purported violations of overtime rules," Corporation Counsel Michael Cardozo said in a statement.   "The granting of overtime in the two years cited was not improper, but simply related to the absence of prior waiver approvals, an oversight that has since been remedied."

    The Law Department has taken action to receive overtime waiver approvals from the Office of Labor Relations for 2011 and 2012.

    According to a statement released by the City Comptroller, “supervisors showed a complete disregard for the rules by approving overtime pay without obtaining waivers for employees.”

    Additionally, CityTime, the web-based time and attendance system for some city agencies, has no function to automatically reject invalid overtime requests.

    Liu said in a statement that, while the amounts of money are small, the violations could indicate a larger problem that may lead to a greater waste of taxpayer money.

    The unwarranted overtime pay could lead to pension abuse, since the pension formula for New York City’s Retirement System is based on employees’ highest consecutive three years of earnings including overtime payments.

    G. Foster Mills, managing attorney for the Law Department, said in a statement that none of the affected employees were expected to retire in the next three years, so pension liability should not pose a problem.