New Caney and Conroe, July 7 – County employees Jennifer Hayden, Dorothy Welch, and Rhonda Behnken will settle their overtime wage claim against Montgomery County which such dispute concerns whether they should have received overtime payments for working with the senior citizens at the East Montgomery County Senior Center. Hayden will receive approximately $3,000, Welch $1,500, and Behnke $11,000, since they did not take full lunch breaks during their work periods. Hayden is the wife of superstar Precinct 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden.
Hayden’s attorney is Conroe lawyer John Choate. Behnken and Welch are representing themselves. County Attorney J.D. Lambright and his team negotiated the settlement on behalf of Montgomery County.
The three employees of the East Montgomery County Senior Center initiated the internal complaint with the County government and claimed that they have been shorted overtime payments for two years. The Center’s Facility Coordinator Rhonda Behnken and her two assistants contend that they have turned in hours for approximately two years that reflect that they should have received overtime for more than forty (40) hours per week of work as a result of not taking lunch breaks during that period. Behnken’s overtime claim is approximately $10,000 for the period, while each of her two assistants claim approximately $2,800. Please see “Employees Charge O/T Floccinaucinihilipilification, Clark Disagrees,” The Golden Hammer, January 20, 2017.
The ladies worked from 7 to 4 on Monday through Thursday and 7 to 1:30 p.m. on Fridays and had received written instructions that they were to take a 30 minute lunch break from the Precinct 4 Commissioner Office. Their contention in filing the internal complaint was that they didn’t take the lunch breaks, so they claimed they were entitled to 30 minutes of overtime every day when they worked.
Hayden, Behnken, and Welch work at the Senior Center but are formally employees of the Commissioner, Precinct 4. They turned in time cards showing work from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. four days per week but did not designate a 30 minute lunch break on their cards. The payroll administrator deducted a 30 minute lunch break in accordance with County policy, but the employees later claimed that they were unable to take lunch breaks as a result of their duties to the senior citizens at the Center.
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark explained, “The duties of the job didn’t conform with a regularly scheduled lunch hour. We’ve now corrected the problem. The employees now take staggered lunch breaks.” Clark has made clear to the employees that taking the lunch break is a mandatory feature of their job requirements.