PLAISTOW — Superintendent Earl Metzler fired back at School Administrative Unit 55 in his answer to the district's response to the lawsuit he filed in November seeking more than $100,000 in overtime and unused vacation pay he says he's owed.
Filed in Rockingham County Superior Court on Jan. 10, Metzler's response says that he seeks payment the SAU "voluntarily obligated itself to pay."
Metzler is a salaried employee for SAU 55 with a base salary of $175,882, according to the New Hampshire Department of Education. SAU 55 is comprised of the Timberlane and Hampstead school districts.
According to Metzler, when the SAU adopted its compensatory time policy, known as DKD-R, it promised to pay employees normally exempt from overtime at time and half.
The objection provides a copy of the policy, which states that exempt employees “may earn compensatory time for working non-scheduled work-days.” It goes on to state “non-exempt employees may earn compensatory time for working beyond their hourly work schedule, and will accrue compensatory time at the rate of time and a half when accrued compensatory time exceeds a 40-hour work week.”
Metzler’s latest filing also references the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, in part, "requires public employers to compensate non-exempt employees with compensatory time at the rate of time and one half."
The SAU was not required to pay exempt employees time and a half under the FLSA, the objection said, but “it chose the rate for its exempt employees to be the same as non-exempt employees by requiring the payment be 'consistent with' that part of the FLSA," according to court documents.
A footnote in the SAU’s response to Metzler’s original complaint, points out that Metzler’s job contract does not include any provision allowing him to earn overtime. SAU 55 argues that Metzler’s contract states that policies not included in the contract can’t be used to justify his earning overtime.
Metzler addressed this point in his most recent response, stating “because the SAU raised this suggestion, it should have provided the court additional facts so as not to create a misleading account.”
Earlier this year, the SAU 55 School Board voted to end its policy of providing compensatory time to administrators. The revised policy states that non-exempt employees earn compensatory time at a rate of time and a half and that the superintendent can no longer earn overtime.
“It follows that if the plaintiff is 'no longer' eligible it means that he was eligible in the prior policy,” the Metzler's response states.
Metzler said previously that, prior to the lawsuit, the district did not provide him a reason as to why they chose to pay straight time rather than time and a half.
“We tried to resolve this wage complaint several times and (were) refused a reason why the board would not honor the rate that is indicated in their policy that made me and other administrators eligible for compensatory time payments,” Metzler said in a statement.
Metzler continued, stating, “their response avoids the actual argument and is conveniently misleading. It is my hope that the board will reconsider their position and honor the benefit that they clearly offered to administrators at the SAU. Simply denying our requests for payment without explanation is unacceptable.”
Kimberly Farah, the chairman of the SAU 55 board, and Shawn O’Neil, a board member, could not be reached for comment.