L.A. Road Department Investigated for “Excessive” Overtime

Los Angeles officials are pointing fingers at the city Department of Transportation, alleging department employees in the traffic paint and sign division might have padded their overtime wages to the tune of $3.3 million. An initial audit of department figures revealed a superintendent employed by the division received $155,310 in overtime pay, about twice his annual salary of $78,000.

According to Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin, four division supervisors were paid $70,000 in overtime pay. Overall, workers in the division were paid an average of $48,000 in overtime pay, compared to the average of $8,300 in overtime pay received by employees in other city departments, including employees in the city’s police and fire departments.

What triggered the audit? The City Controller’s office received a tip that employees in the division were claiming overtime pay for hours they did not actually work. And indeed, once the audit was initiated, overtime claims declined by 40 percent, according to the officials who completed the audit.

“One might reasonably conclude that at least some of the employees in the Traffic Paint and Sign section were committing payroll fraud,” the audit noted.

But like many other workplace- and wage-related legal issues, there’s more than one side to this story, and division employees say the case is not as clear-cut as city officials might have others believe. Even the auditors admit at this point that there’s not enough evidence to support a criminal investigation or prosecution. Read our next blog post to learn what the employees have to say.

Joseph & Kirschenbaum LLP has successfully represented restaurant workers and service workers in diverse industries in many nationally prominent wage and hour cases. Call us today at 1 (212) 688-5640, or email us at info@jhllp.com, to schedule a confidential intake evaluation.