Hurricane officer sues, seeks lost wages for K-9 care
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A former Hurricane police officer is suing the department for lost wages for time he spent caring for, training and grooming his K9 companion.
Patrolman Jason Kerr alleges in a civil suit filed in Putnam County Circuit Court earlier this month that the Hurricane Police Department failed to compensate him even though it had paid previous K9 officers.
According to the suit, Kerr was hired in March 2010 and was later promoted to a patrolman and K9 officer. Kerr was required to take his police dog home after each workday and care for the animal on days off. For Kerr, this included training the dog, grooming it and feeding it daily, according to the suit.
The suit alleges that the department regularly paid other K9 officers for up to one hour of regular pay plus overtime pay. An additional 16 hours of overtime pay was given to K9 officers for each month of necessary training.
Kerr said he usually worked 40-hour workweeks and did not receive any compensation for the hours of training and working with his dog.
The suit alleges the Hurricane Police Department failed to meet the standards of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which entitles employees compensation for all time worked on behalf of the department.
As a result, Kerr suffered "loss of pay, physical pain, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and other non-pecuniary losses," according to the suit.
Kerr has since resigned from the department. The suit requests that the department pay him for any and all unpaid wages no later than the payday following his resignation.
The suit also asks Hurricane Police Chief Mike Mullins and Hurricane Mayor Scott Edwards provide written examples of all the time Kerr worked and how much he was compensated for caring and grooming his K9. It asks for Mullins and Edwards to estimate how much time they think a K9 officer spends training his or her dog.
The suit is expected to go before Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Stowers.
Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.