Greene County employees sued say they tried to negotiate unsuccessfully with commissioners

The attorney for 10 Greene County employees who are being sued by the county said commissioners rejected offers to negotiate before a lawsuit was filed.

Greene County commissioners have sued the employees, including two elected officials, seeking backpay for what the county says were overpayments. The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 3.

The attorneys for Greene County could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. Greene County commissioners have retained attorneys from Gottschlich & Portune for $11,417.

The employees owe a combined $90,000 in wages they were overpaid in the past 11 years because of a withholding error related to Medicare coverage. The employees say they did nothing wrong and this was a mistake made by the county.

“The lawsuit concerns a failure of the Greene County Auditor to properly withhold Medicare taxes from the paychecks of the employees over a long period of time, and the amount legally owed,” said James Kordik, the attorney for the employees, in a written statement. “We have attempted to negotiate the matter by mediation offered through the Ohio Supreme Court. In addition, we have made two offers to settle the disputed amounts. The Commissioners summarily rejected the mediation efforts, and we have never received a response to our two settlement offers.”

Kordik works for Rogers & Greenberg law firm.

ExploreGreene County Commissioners sue 10 employees over backpay

The overpayment stems from an Ohio law that says state and local government employees who are hired or rehired after March 31, 1986, must pay into Medicare for future coverage. The employees in question retired and then were rehired by Greene County after 2007, but the county auditor’s office didn’t withhold payment for the Medicare coverage for those employees until 2018, according to records obtained by the Dayton Daily News.

The county auditor’s office didn’t consider these retire-rehires as a break in employment, so Medicare contributions were not withheld. IRS rules see retirement as a break in service. The auditor started withholding those contributions when the office realized the mistake.

The employees the county are seeking reimbursement from include Prosecutor Stephen Haller and Common Pleas Judge Stephen Wolaver.

“It is unfortunate that the Greene County commissioners have chosen not to negotiate or attempt to settle the matter. Our group will continue to seek a good faith resolution,” Kordik said in his statement.