Prison worker sues TDCJ over back pay

Kelly Holleran Sep. 2, 2009, 6:14am

A Jefferson County woman claiming the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has failed to fully compensate her is suing the department for more than two years' back pay.

Plaintiff Valerie Mahfood filed a lawsuit against TDCJ on Aug. 27 in Jefferson County District Court.

Mahfood states she has worked for TDCJ for 16 years at the LeBlanc Unit in Beaumont in a dual position as grievance investigator and law librarian.

At the time Mahfood was hired to work the positions in July 1999, both positions received the same lieutenant-level pay, according to the complaint.

In September 2005, however, the law librarian position was raised to a higher, captain-level pay and all law librarians should have received a salary increase, the suit states.

Because Mahfood was spending a majority of her time performing law librarian duties, she contends she should have received the pay increase. However, she continued to be listed as a grievance instructor and receive only lieutenant-level pay, the complaint says.

It was not until January 2008, after Mahfood made repeated demands that she be raised to captain-level pay, that her salary was finally increased, she claims.

But when Mahfood's salary was increased to captain-level pay, she was not compensated with back pay for the period between September 2005 and December 2007, according to the complaint.

In her suit, Mahfood is seeking unpaid wages and benefits, interest, attorney's fees, costs and other relief to which she may be entitled.

Kelly J. Stewart and James E. Wimberley of McPherson, Hughes,
Bradley, Wimberley, Steele and Chatelain in Port Arthur will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: E184-797.

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