Tags: los angeles | transportation | workers | bill | overtime | pay | fraud

Transportation Dept. Staff Billed LA $48K in Overtime Per Worker

By    |   Wednesday, 27 May 2015 04:43 PM

An audit of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has discovered that employees in the crews that paint highway lines and install street signs billed the city a "staggering" $3.3 million in overtime in 2013-2014, which has led to strong suspicions of fraud.

The average employee of the department pulled in $48,100 overtime on top of their regular salary, or nearly six times the overtime that other city workers were paid, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Nearly half of the 67 employees said they worked more than 1,000 overtime hours in 2013-2014 and seven say they worked 2,000 hours, which would mean working 38 extra hours per week.

One manager received $155,319 in overtime on top of his $78,000 salary, City Controller Ron Galperin told the Times, tripling his pay.

However, no one has been fired or prosecuted for the suspected fraud, although the audit states, "One might reasonably conclude that at least some of the employees in the traffic paint and sign section were committing payroll fraud."

This, Galperin states, is because record keeping was so shoddy that it's impossible to tell whether the claimed overtime hours fraudulently were inflated.

"There is not evidence to show that the work was not done, but then again, there is not evidence to show what was done," he told the Times.

The LADOT's labor agreement allows workers to claim overtime even if their work week includes vacation and sick days. Elimination of this could save $1.2 million per year in the LADOT alone, Galperin told the Times.

DOT general manager Seleta Reynolds told CBS News Los Angeles that orders from former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for the crews to paint more than 100 miles of bike paths and widen pedestrian crossing lines may be partly responsible for the costs.

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Once it became known that the audit was under way, the overtime amounts quickly dropped by 44 percent and that "certainly raises a lot of very serious questions," Galperin told the Times.

The audit was triggered by an anonymous tip to the city's hotline, CBS noted.

"We have a zero tolerance for individuals taking part in any abuse of the system, and if that is the case, the department leads have a responsibility to address the issue head-on; this includes addressing the understaffing issue immediately and enforcing an internal environment that encourages ethical conduct," Bob Schoonover, president of SEIU 721, the union representing the workers, told the Times.

City Councilman Mike Bonin told the Times, "Overtime abuses like this jeopardize trust in local government and absolutely must be corrected."

Considering the amount of overtime, Galperin told CBS, "There’s a certain point at which it seems nearly impossible that somebody could work so many hours, for such an extended period of time, without completely breaking down."

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An audit of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) has discovered that employees in the crews that paint highway lines and install street signs billed the city a "staggering" $3.3 million in overtime in 2013-2014, which has led to strong suspicions of fraud.
los angeles, transportation, workers, bill, overtime, pay, fraud
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2015-43-27
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 04:43 PM
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