Public Housing Employee Claims Six Hours of Overtime for Locking and Unlocking One Door

The Center for Investigative Reporting writes: “Each Saturday morning, a handyman is supposed to unlock a recreation room at the Richmond public housing complex called Friendship Manor. On one December day last year, Jeffery Likely said it was his job. He told his bosses he opened the rec room at 8 a.m. and closed it at 5 p.m. He charged six hours of overtime for locking and unlocking one door. But Allen Wheeler said he did the simple task of unlocking and locking that door at nearly the same times on the same day. It wasn’t an isolated incident. The Richmond Housing Authority has paid tens of thousands of dollars in questionable overtime over the last four years to its two maintenance workers, a review of overtime records by The Center of Investigative Reporting has found.”

The two workers double-billed for the same job, charged overtime during normal work hours and regularly invoked a union clause to get paid triple for hours worked. The investigative reporter discovered that almost 30 percent of the 2,800 hours of overtime that Mr. Wheeler billed in the last four years occurred during his normal work hours. Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Likely both charged overtime for opening or closing the rec room at nearly the same time on 10 occasions in 2013.

The report continued: “Top Richmond Housing Authority officials signed off on all the time sheets, some of which contain glaring problems. For example, nearly every day in March 2012, Wheeler charged six hours of overtime for six hours of work helping with maintenance work – his job description – from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. His regular shift runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.”

In the last four years, the housing authority paid Mr. Likely more than $67,000 in overtime. Mr. Wheeler received more than $58,000. They each make a base annual salary of $23,000 a year, and live in housing authority apartments rent-free.

Additionally, Mr. Likely, whose aunt is the second in command at the housing agency, billed the agency for hundreds of overtime hours for driving an agency vehicle, despite not having a valid driver’s license. “A valid driver’s license is one of the few job requirements for a housing authority maintenance worker,” the report notes.

From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Mr. Likely often finished the workday by sweeping and cleaning up around one of the five public housing complexes he maintains, according to his time sheets. Each time, he got paid for three hours of work. Normally, workers at the housing authority receive time and a half for each hour of overtime, but if they are called back to work after going home, they get a minimum of three hours per call. This “call-back pay” applies even if workers live on-site, as Mr. Likely does.

The Richmond Housing Authority is approximately $7 million in debt and has failed to provide basic maintenance to residents, who have lived among mice, mold and cockroaches. (Source: The Center for Investigative Reporting, May 8.)

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