Clerk Overruled on Overtime Policy

Times Staff Writer

As if City Clerk Donna Babb didn't have enough to worry about--the Los Angeles County district attorney's office is continuing its investigation into charges of mismanagement of her office--she was recently overruled by the city manager in a dispute with her staff over compensatory time.

Babb said she was just trying to implement a city manager's directive to follow federal guidelines limiting compensatory time when she set a policy disallowing any compensatory time. When staff members complained, she changed the policy to allow time off if it was earned and used the same day. Staff members again complained and filed a grievance with City Manager LeRoy Jackson to resolve the dispute.

Additionally, some employee allegations that prompted the district attorney's investigation of Babb--including charges that Babb imposed her religious beliefs on an employee and used a staff Christmas party for political purposes--were included in grievances that sought to have employees' duties limited to their job descriptions.

There was also a question whether all nine staff members should be allowed flexible daily work schedules--allowing them to come in early and leave early, or start late and leave late--or just employees who are required to work night meetings.

The city manager's office decided late last week that employees will be allowed to accrue compensatory time if it is used during the same week. Flexitime will be allowed for all staff members. Any compensatory time accrued and not used within seven days will have to be taken in pay at the overtime rate of time and one-half.

The city manager's representative, Liz Rojas, ruled that the employee grievances about being required to perform functions beyond job descriptions were filed too late. Rojas said the incidents in question occured eight months ago and a year ago, and that incidents must have occurred within 30 days for the city manager to act on them. Rojas, however, did file a recommendation to Babb that employee duties be confined to city business.

Babb has agreed to develop a new office policy that will allow for flexitime.

Babb said the problems began last month after Jackson sent a memo to department heads saying that under a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in February city employees fell under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and would have to abide by restrictions on accruing compensatory time. The federal law requires employees to use that time within seven days, Jackson said.

Earlier in the week, Babb said the grievances had been filed against her as part of an effort to weaken her bid for reelection next March.

"The motive is political," Babb said, although she declined to name names. "It's an attempt to discredit me and destroy my credibility with the people. Everything is being thrown in my path to prevent me from doing my job."

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