County settles $3.45 million lawsuit with sheriff deputies

Bret Anne Serbin

Missoula County and a number of Missoula County Sheriff deputies settled a $3.45 million wage claim Thursday morning for back pay owed to the deputies.

The case, Baker et. al. v. Missoula County, involved three years of unpaid wages based on the county’s failure to calculate parity pay and certification pay in the deputies’ wages.

The claim will be funded through a judgment levy.

County Commissioners Josh Slotnick and Dave Strohmaier approved the settlement with Board Chair Juanita Vero absent during an administrative meeting Thursday.

Vero participated in the two-day mediation process that took place with the sheriff deputies in May.

Erica Grinde, Missoula County director of risk management and benefits, said the discrepancy in the deputies’ wages “stemmed from some unclear state statutes.”

She said state legislation passed in 2021 required parity and certification pay to be included in deputies’ wages, but Missoula County failed to include those wages in the deputies’ base pay.

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“The claim alleged that because those factors weren’t included it decreased the deputies’ earnings,” explained Grinde.

Deputies filed the claim in January.

The settlement, Grinde said, resolves all claims related to the lawsuit. Going forward,

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