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Correctional officers sue for hazard pay

ELKTON — Correctional officers at the federal prison in Elkton are suing the federal government for hazard pay for working during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to WKBN First News, the guards’ attorney, Megan Mechak, claims they are entitled to hazard pay because of federal laws.

The corrections officers, Mechak argues, are entitled either to hazard pay or environmental pay based on their pay scale.

The lawsuit also claims that any overtime worked during the pandemic should be recalculated based off of that pay, and they should be compensated for back pay and interest.

“The point of this is that these workers are coming to work in a very dangerous situation,” Mechak told WKBN. “The law provides that when you have to do that, you should be getting paid for it and they’re not,” Mechak said. “We can’t take away the dangerousness of the situation, but we wanted to make sure that they were getting the compensation that they were entitled to for that time period.”

FCI-Elkton houses approximately 2,400 inmates in the low security facility, although some in the higher risk category were transferred earlier in the summer. Last month, the Bureau of Prisons reported that more than 900 inmates and 54 staff members have recovered from the virus since the beginning of the pandemic. Nine inmates have died from COVID-19.

WKBN also contacted the corrections officers’ union president, Joseph Mayle, who said more than 200 officers are part of the lawsuit.

Mayle said many of the officers have been most concerned about bringing the virus home to their families.

“I don’t think that’s unreasonable, to think that an employee that is putting their lives on the line every day — and now more so, because now it’s affecting their families a lot more,” he told WKBN. “We went to work every single day, putting our lives on the line, knowing that something could happen to us but we knew that nothing was going to happen to our wife, or our son or our daughter. Our working conditions didn’t affect them in that way.”

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