TN Supreme Court rules Hamilton Co. board exceeded authority in - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TN Supreme Court rules Hamilton Co. board exceeded authority in pay dispute

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Civil Service Board exceeded its authority when it forced the sheriff to equalize the pay of sergeants in the department.

Six sergeants filed a grievance with the department regarding pay range among their ranks.

When the sheriff refused to end the pay gap, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Civil Service Board. The board ordered the sheriff to equalize all sergeants' pay in the department.

Sheriff Jim Hammond appealed the decision on the grounds the board exceeded its legal authority.

The chancery court agreed with the sheriff and declared the board's ruling null and void. On appeal, the Tennessee Court of Appeals said that the board had exceeded its authority, but directed the sheriff to take the necessary steps to eliminate the disparity in sergeants' pay.

The Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the decision and said the sheriff did not have to pay all the sergeants the same.

The Court relied on several statutes, including one that grants the Hamilton County Commission the authority to set the sheriff's budget. Furthermore, the Supreme Court noted that the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department Civil Service Manual expressly gives the sheriff the power to make individual pay determinations.

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