Thousands of Current and Former State Employees Win Combined Total of $23 Million in DPSCS Wage Theft Settlement

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Through union’s efforts, additional $9+ million will be disbursed to workers as a result of federal Department of Labor investigation

Annapolis — This morning, the Board of Public Works (BPW) approved the disbursement of nearly $10 million owed to Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) employees. This additional settlement comes as a result of a years-long investigation into systemic wage theft in the agency that affected thousands of employees who have worked or currently work for DPSCS.

Last July, the BPW approved an initial settlement amount of $13+ million. The resulting total of this wage theft investigation accounting for both settlements is nearly $23 million, the second largest wage theft settlement for correctional officers in United States’ history.

“Governor Larry Hogan and his administration orchestrated a scheme to steal almost $23 million from overworked and understaffed correctional officers that he employed. This is a department that Larry Hogan oversaw and that his appointees managed. Even after being caught by our union and the federal Department of Labor, Governor Hogan’s administration refused to speak with us about this theft. Even on his last day in office, Larry Hogan continued to conceal the scope of this multi-million-dollar wage theft,” said AFSCME Maryland Council 3 President Patrick Moran in remarks said during the BPW meeting.

For years, DPSCS illegally altered employee’s timecards, in clear violation of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Union members in multiple correctional institutions across the state raised these paycheck issues to their chain of command and upper management within the department. AFSCME filed multiple complaints with the federal Department of Labor alleging that the State was illegally changing time records for employees without their knowledge or permission.

“This should have never happened to us as state employees. The State of Maryland is supposed to be a model employer. And in a time where we are already short-staffed and working in dangerous conditions, this is not how you treat state employees,” said Patrick Okafor, a Correctional Officer Sergeant at the Dorsey Run Correctional Institution in Jessup.

“This money represents wages stolen from public employees. This is money that was stolen from us and our families. This should be a lesson for DPSCS that messing with punch times and when we clock in should not and will not be tolerated,” said John Feeley, a Correctional Officer Sergeant at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown.

As initial settlement checks started to be disbursed, AFSCME members discovered calculations used for the initial settlement last July were inadequate and failed to include all DPSCS employees affected. AFSCME continued to raise issues with the initial settlement amount until the federal Department of Labor revised the totals. This additional $9+ million now includes correct amounts owed to employees and includes all hourly DPSCS employees who were erroneously excluded from the initial settlement.

“Somewhere along the way, someone thought they could steal a couple minutes of our time here and a couple of minutes there, but it adds up. These were unauthorized adjustments of our time, and this should have never been done in the first place. As correctional maintenance officers, we’re frequently told that we’re not correctional officers, but the work we do is just as essential for keeping these facilities running. It’s a relief to finally be included in this settlement and to be getting the money that we rightfully earned,” said Shane Wolford, a Correctional Officer in the maintenance department at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland.

Final settlements will vary for each individual employee depending on how their hours were rounded up or down by the Hogan Administration and when they punched in and out on their timecards. The settlement covers a period of up to 3 years, the maximum allowed, based on the federal Department of Labor’s findings.

“I’m proud of the work and effort my fellow union members and I put into uncovering this wage theft and financial injustice. Now, our members have finally won what they are owed. But sadly, to this day, nobody has been truly held accountable for what happened here. I thank Governor Moore for his transparency and readiness to right the wrongs committed by the Hogan administration, and I know that justice will prevail,” said Oluwadamilola Olaniyan, a Correctional Officer Sergeant at the Jessup Correctional Institution in Jessup.

“I have been a victim of wage theft, and recovering these lost wages has brought immense relief to myself, my family, and my coworkers. As a correctional officer, I work diligently and take on work that is both physically and mentally hard. It's a shame we had to also deal with wages being stolen from us. My fellow officers and I have been waiting a long time to be repaid, and throughout this entire process, we’ve still shown up to do the job. It’s about time,” said Brittany Cozart, a Correctional Officer Sergeant at the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore.

You can see our press release from last July for the initial settlement here.


About AFSCME Maryland Council 3
AFSCME Maryland Council 3 represents nearly 45,000 public service workers in local, city, county and state government as well as in higher education who provide the valuable public services that our communities rely on. From Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore, we make Maryland happen.