Chattanooga police sue over pay disparity

Chattanooga police sue over pay disparity

October 11th, 2012 by Todd South in Local Regional News

Chattanooga policemen in lawsuit

• Matt Rogers

• Phil Grubb

• Ty Cooper

• Scott Crider

• Vincent Holoman

• Lee Wolff

• Alejandro Lopez

• Terry Topping

• Mike Smith

• David Ashley

• Michael Hart

• Charles Poland

Source: Chancery Court documents

Document: Chattanooga Police pay

Twelve Chattanooga police master patrolmen have sued the city over an ongoing pay disparity in which some junior officers are paid more than their senior supervisors.

The officers allege in the lawsuit, filed in Hamilton County Chancery Court on Tuesday, that recently promoted master patrolmen, a rank below sergeant in the department, are being paid higher salaries. The plaintiffs, who already held the rank, have not received the pay with their earlier promotions, the lawsuit claims.

Local attorney Scott Bennett, who represents the dozen officers, alleges in court documents that the city began a program of training and promotion that pushed level one patrolmen up a promotion ladder as they completed requirements but ended before those in higher ranks could participate because of underfunding and poor management.

The officers are requesting back pay and benefits lost since disparities began.

The lawsuit is similar to a suit filed in July by 29 sergeants and above for nearly identical complaints. That lawsuit has been moved to federal court and does not have a next scheduled hearing listed in court records.

Eighteen of the officers in the federal lawsuit over the age of 40 have also claimed age discrimination.

Two former deputy chiefs -- T.E. "Skip" Vaughn and Charles Cooke - sued the city in 2007 after being fired and replaced by younger officers. The pair won $840,000.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield told the City Council in August that the federal lawsuit may delay a $1.2 million pay increase planned in this year's budget for the police department.

The pay problem dates back to before 2009, when Fraternal Order of Police representative Danny Hill wrote a letter to the city, saying the pay system was creating these very disparities.

In 2010, the City Council approved a pay remedy for the sergeants and above ranks but the officers who've reached the required ranks have not received the promised pay raises, according to court documents.