PITTSBURGH — Some Allegheny County Jail employees said they are being harassed and threatened for not working overtime.
Thursday, they filed a federal lawsuit against the county and jail warden.
Three corrections officers filed the class action suit.
They contend that the warden has engaged in a campaign of discrimination and retaliation.
Because of significant understaffing at the Allegheny County Jail, the federal lawsuit contends, corrections officers are forced to work overtime.
But some of those officers who filed the suit said they can't work the overtime and claim they are protected by the Family Medical Leave Act.
"These are people who need FMLA, either because they have a medical condition that prevents them from working more than eight hours, or because, for example, in the case of one of our clients, his mother is elderly and and has dementia and he and his wife are full-time caregivers," attorney Maggie Coleman said.
She's one of the attorneys representing the three corrections officers who they said can effectively work their normal eight-hour shifts, but just can't work overtime.
Now they said they are being harassed and threatened.
In the class action suit filed Thursday, they claim that the warden blamed one of the officers who declined overtime for an inmate's suicide.
They also claim the warden publically shamed officers by posting the names of those who use FMLA to avoid working overtime.
One of the officers also said she received threatening phone calls while on-duty at the jail, and even found her car covered with chewing tobacco spit.
"This is clearly contrary to federal law," attorney Deborah Marcuse said. "The FMLA requires that employees do not take use of federally protected leave as a negative factor in any employment action and that's absolutely what they're doing."
Channel 11 contacted representatives with Allegheny County, but they didn't want to comment on the lawsuit.
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