On 4/26/2011, I received an email from the Humboldt County Payroll Department that I had been over paid for years 2007 and 2009. During that time I was a Supervisor working out of class as acting Manager. (MOU 12.6.)

I had tried for months to put the responsibility for the overpayments on my department because we had employees that actually got paid to perform payroll duties. I had no idea I was being over paid and my department didn’t spot any discrepancies either.  My department head even tried to convince Payroll it was not my responsibility as well. Finally, the Personnel Director said I must start paying back the Payroll Department. The over-payment amount was $5003.88 (imagine getting that email!), and Payroll was asking a minimum of $102.12 per pay period for 49 consecutive months.

This was very devastating to me as I am my only income source. After 10 months of trying to reconcile, I notified my superior that I would be filing a grievance. From the time I filed the grievance until the time it was resolved, it took approximately 30 days.  The Union’s Business Agent, Harriet Lawlor, reviewed my case.  She requested my payroll records from previous and current years, she sorted and reviewed and found so many discrepancies with the pay scale ranges it was mind boggling.

Once she was able to line everything up, she discovered that I was in fact, UNDERPAID approximately $12,032.00 and overpaid approximately $2300.00. What a huge difference it was to be owed over $8000, rather than owing $2300!  I would never have been able to sort it all out without the help of my Union and someone who understood the MOU and pay step ranges.  Never!

I am very thankful for the help I received from AFSCME as I was so frustrated and confused by the whole situation that I came close to just paying off the debt that Payroll said I owed to get it off my back. Thankfully, the Union had my back when I asked for help.  Always get a second opinion and get representation from your Union.

Jean Gomes

Legal Office Services Supervisor, ACC

Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office

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