Former Canton police sergeant Stacy Bailey sued the city in October 2012, claiming she was owed back pay for overtime after being suspended with pay in July following allegations she used money to buy a golf cart for the disabled son of a Sandy Springs police officer she allegedly was involved with.
She was fired from the department in November 2012.
Canton City Attorney Bobby Dyer said Tuesday the case may soon be settled, with the Canton City Council scheduled to vote at its meeting Thursday night on whether or not to approve the first reading of the settlement agreement to pay a total of $60,000 to Bailey and another $47,000 in attorney fees.
If the council approves the settlement plan, Bailey will receive $30,000 in unpaid overtime pay and $30,000 for “alleged liquidated damages,” Dyer said.
Dyer said the figures in the settlement are “arbitrary” since it is still in question whether or not Bailey was considered an employee “exempt” from overtime pay.
If the case goes to trial, that determination would be made by a jury. If it sided with Bailey that she was due overtime pay, the hit to the city would be expensive, Dyer said.
“The risks were just too great,” he said. “If she won anything, we’d have to pay her attorney fees.” Those could be in excess of $100,000, he said.
The city decided to pursue a settlement in a hearing April 15, Dyer said.
In the course of the hearing, Dyer said, “We found out pretty quickly we were going to be able to settle.”
But Canton still may not be done with Bailey, Dyer said.
The city has received a document threatening another suit from Bailey against Canton Police Chief Robert Merchant, alleging that he committed libel in a letter written to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation asking them to investigate her spending, Dyer said.
Dyer said the letter about the pending suit was handed over to the city’s insurance company and could be resolved before a suit is filed.
Sherry Lang, a spokesperson for GBI said Tuesday that her department “presented the facts of the case to the District Attorney’s office and was told there were no criminal laws violated in the purchase of the golf cart.”
The $4,000 in funds spent on the golf cart are alleged to have come from Canton Police’s Explorers unit, a program the Canton Police Department participates in to teach children about law enforcement.
Mayor Gene Hobgood said Monday that had the city had a better system in place for overtime pay, the city could’ve avoided the suit.
“It’s a shame,” he said. “We should’ve had controls in place and been able to avoid things like (this settlement).”
Bailey’s suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on Oct. 11, 2012, and names Canton, Merchant, City Manager Scott Wood and the Canton Police Department.
She alleged she was not paid overtime and other compensation. The suit also claims that under the police department’s policy, she should have received a raise when she completed her master’s degree in July.
Bailey had been with the Canton Police Department since February 2003.
For the city go through with the settlement, Hobgood said two readings of the agreement and a budget amendment for the funds must pass the City Council.