Friday, October 25, 2019

Former & Current MBN Agents Sue for Back Pay

25 current and former Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Agents sued for back pay and promotions yesterday in Hinds County Circuit Court.  The defendants are MBN, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, MBN Director John Dowdy, Jr., and DPS Commissioner Marshall Fisher.

The legislature passed SB #2500 in 2015.  The bill set up a new salary schedule for DPS employees.   The law decreed the "rank and years of experience of each sworn officer" is to be used in calculating salaries.  The complaint states DPS is supposed to submit such information to the legislative budget office every year so the legislature can determine the budget of DPS (and MBN). 

The plaintiffs claim MBN deprived them of income by intentionally omitting their prior experience when determining salary.  Two plaintiffs, Pitts and Storr, claim they submitted their required documentation so their salaries could be adjusted.  However, MBN's Chief of Staff Allison Killibrew allegedly told them (#42) the legislature provided no appropriation to pay for the salary adjustments.   She said there would not be enough funds to included "law enforcement experience outside of MBN."  She claimed the legislature would have to make a specific appropriation for back bay as the bureau can not pay such compensation out of its regular budget. 

The Bureau's FY 2020 budget only increased by $448,813 to cover increased contributions to PERS (#44). 
 Other agents made similar requests but were told there was no money for the salary adjustments.  Bureau leadership claimed in a June meeting there was money to pay the current adjusted salaries but no funds to pay back pay. However, the complaint alleges Commissioner Fisher stopped MBN paying the "overdue salary adjustments" in the late Summer of 2019. 

The complaint charges Dowdy and Fisher lied to the legislature and refused to provide the accurate experience information so that the budget could cover the back pay.  

Plaintiff Anthony Johnson's claim is representative of the other plaintiffs.  Johnson was a Clinton police officer from 1996 to 2002 and a JPD officer from 2002 to 2014.  He became an MBN agent in 2013. He is classified as Agent II at $41,000 per year.   He alleges MBN did not use his 16 years of prior law enforcement experience to determine his classification and salary.  He claimed it should be $53,000 per year as an Agent IV.  The complaint is replete with similar claims from other plaintiffs.

The lawsuit ask the court to order MBN to begin paying the plaintiffs their proper salaries immediately as well as paying their back pay.   The alleged failure of Dowdy and Fisher to follow the law constitute negligence.  The plaintiffs ask for punitive damages to be awarded against them individually.

Attorneys Louis Watson and Nick Norris represent the plaintiffs. The lawsuit was assigned to Circuit Judge Adrienne Whooten.


Anonymous said...

“We’re from the Government and we’re here to help you”. Most Agency heads don’t give a rats ass about their employees, mostly care about helping friends of friends. But they will damn sure give you an a award and take a picture with you!

MBN pay, is below pitiful!!!

Anonymous said...

This happens to employees everyday in state agencies.

Anonymous said...

So...should State Employees also go to court over the fact that for the past forty years, the salary schedule set up by the State Personnel Board and approved by the legislature has never been observed or funded by agencies or the legislature?

Anonymous said...

If these gubmnt employees took the job at the category and pay scale that existed ---- i.e. the Agent II at $41,000 why the hell do they now feel that they are entitled to back pay because the legislature chose to put this language into a bill (during an election year) but did not appropriate the money to pay for it?

Yes, the language may be there, but without a corresponding appropriation, there is not "there" there.

Of course, lawyers being what they are, a good lawsuit is never something to pass up. Kinda like a urinal - never pass one by whether you there is a basis for stopping or not.

Anonymous said...

Do they realize punitive damages are taxable?

Anonymous said...

If, the DPS can't administer driver license testing...what else can u expect? Seems Fisher is retired on the job, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Fisher and Dowdy lied???? Say it ain't so!

Anonymous said...

Looks like the MBN admin eventually came around (after a few years of incompetence) and attempted to make this right by their agents. Then when it came time to cut the checks Marshall Fisher pulled out his DENIED stamp and stopped everything dead in its tracks. So much for being a champion of law enforcement.

Obviously he vales his political legacy more than he values the lives of the men and women who wear their badges every day.

Can you say SELL OUT???

Might it be time for old man Fisher to go to the house??? Or did he lose that in the divorce settlement as well?

Anonymous said...

KF: I wish you would check this out--I was told several years ago that MBN agents are put on the MHP roles for a short period of time just so they can become eligible for the extra retirement benefits that MHP troopers get. If this is true, it sounds fishy.

Anonymous said...

351, obviously your decades of working as a state employee has dulled any knowledge you should have learned in 8th grade Civics.

An agency head can't spend the money if it is not appropriated by the legislature. Authorizing a pay raise without funding it is not a pay raise, no matter what a bunch of Jim Hoods trial lawyer buddies try to say in court. Would suggest that they take their pay in bags of sweet potatos, since that's the language these lawyer types understand.

Anonymous said...

2:39 - Try to pay attention. If you enter into a contract (in this case via a written contractual guarantee), and later realize, suspect or determine that the contract has been violated, you are entitled to sue for damages. How difficult is that for you to understand?

If the language does NOT say, "If and when appropriations fund the schedule", they probably have a good case. But, that's the purpose of our court system, right?

Anonymous said...

Disband MHP. Let local law enforcement write tickets and work wrecks.

Lose that terrible culture and you can build a state law enforcement agency that works. Issue licenses, MBN, crime lab, etc...

been there, done that says said...

@ 5:47
No, that's not how it works. MBN Agents are eligible to attend the MHP academy to become troopers, but it's not given to them. The expectation is that the agents will return to MBN, but the reality is that life as a trooper is much better with the same or better pay. As long as you meet your non-existent quota on tickets, its much easier than 4 ROI's a month. Your round hat gets you so much more.

Anonymous said...

1053.... AMEN!!! Troopers are useless!!

Anonymous said...

It is time for Fisher and Dowdy to go to the house. Since Fisher has come to this state everything he has touched has turned to shit.

Anonymous said...

MBN is non-existent in the field. They exist to work cases that allows the state to get in on forfeitures. Disband the whole thing. Locals are doing the work.

Anonymous said...

Those badges and weapons, some say, give one a perpetual hard-on. Even if it IS a two-incher due to the roids.

Anonymous said...

10:53, you don't want to keep MBN, do you? Most of those folks are troopers and their leadership is troopers. DPS is a broken and dysfunctional department and has inserted itself into all kinds of shit into which it has no business.

Anonymous said...

Why are only LEO's getting credit for years of service when getting salary adjustments, and not all other state employees.

Anonymous said...

10:07 - Link?

Anonymous said...

Is there any list of all the plaintiffs available ?

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