OU Police Lieutenant Files Court Of Claims Case

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An Ohio University police lieutenant who filed a federal lawsuit against OU in a pay dispute has now filed the same lawsuit in the Ohio Court of Claims.

Lt. Christopher Johnson filed the Court of Claims case on Thursday.

As The Messenger previously reported, Johnson is asserting that he is due overtime pay for part of the time he spent on paid administrative leave.

Daniel Klos, who is Johnson's attorney, said Thursday he does not expect both the federal lawsuit and the Ohio Court of Claims case to proceed simultaneously.

"One or the other will be stayed," Klos said.

Johnson was on paid leave from Aug. 2, 2012 to July 26, 2013 while the university investigated allegations of inappropriate on-duty conduct. During that time, Johnson was required to be available to OU by telephone weekdays during the university’s business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., which amounts to nine hours per day or 45 hours per week. He was paid for eight hours per day, and the lawsuits assert he is entitled to overtime pay for the extra hour per day.

Last summer, an OU pre-disciplinary hearing was held regarding allegations against Johnson of: not speaking the truth while being questioned for an investigation, abuse of position, misconduct and neglect of duty. Johnson denied the allegations, but the hearing officer concluded they had been substantiated. Johnson was taken off paid administrative leave and given a two-day unpaid suspension.

Johnson appealed the suspension to the State Personnel Board of Review, but the board ruled that it only had jurisdiction over suspensions greater than three days. Johnson appeal that ruling to Franklin County Common Pleas Court, and that case is still pending.

The university has not yet responded to either the federal case or the just-filed Ohio Court of Claims case.

However, an indication of its position can be found in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court case.

"Johnson's claim that he was entitled to pay for his time just because he was required to be accessible by phone is meritless, because he was not required to be at the workplace and was free to use the time for his own purposes," a footnote in a university filing asserts.