Moultrie Observer

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September 16, 2006

Fired library worker files intent to sue

MOULTRIE — Fired from her job at the Odom and Moultrie-Colquitt County libraries, the former editor and publisher of genealogical newspaper The Family Tree is seeking back pay from the libraries and city and county governments which contribute to the libraries’ funding.

Represented by Atlanta firm Beard and Chang, LLC, Beth Gay currently is seeking $4,160, the alleged difference between what she said she was paid and minimum wage for two years; $19,325 in alleged uncompensated overtime; $15,000 for compensation for pain and humiliation in relation to her termination; and attorney’s fees.

Gay, a former columnist for The Moultrie Observer and The Mailbox Post, is making her claims pursuant to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act that requires employers to pay employees a minimum wage, currently $5.15 per hour of work for up to 40 hours per week, plus overtime at one and a half times the employee’s regular rate of pay, attorney Kelly Beard said in recent correspondence to the library board.

In her 17 years tenure with the libraries, Gay built up the The Family Tree to be largest genealogical newspaper in the world, the claim said. Gay traveled often to various events and festivals in the course of promoting and gathering material for The Family Tree. She was responsible for raising $225,000 per year to publish it, Beard said. Gay’s networking also contributed to more than 130 Scottish clans loaning their archival and genealogical materials to the Odom Library.

When allegedly confronted by libraries Director Melody Jenkins about the travel expenses, Gay explained her trips to various Highland Games (Scottish festivals) were compensated mostly through her work as speaker at these events. The claim alleged Gay was pressured by Jenkins and agreed to reduce her salary by half in exchange for the other half to be used for travel.

In the three years prior to her termination in May, Gay claims to have worked 60 to 70 hours per week. Allegedly, the halving of her salary lowered Gay’s pay to less than minimum wage, plus Gay allegedly received no overtime compensation, the claim said. Both actions would be illegal.

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