CNMI Attorney General Edward Manibusan filed a lawsuit against Department of Public Safety Commissioner Robert A. Guerrero in Superior Court for excessive overtime pay due to the typhoon.
Manibusan brought the lawsuit “on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth, who are harmed and have been harmed by the overcompensation of defendant Robert A. Guerrero, a Commonwealth government employee who was not entitled to premium compensation.” typhoon emergency, overtime or extra charge pay for work performed during the declared major disaster and significant state of emergency related to Super Typhoon Yutu, or for work directly involved in the work typhoon recovery and repair and provide assistance to members of the Commonwealth affected by Super Typhoon Yutu.
The AG is also asking the court to issue a judgment declaring that staff regulations authorizing the payment of typhoon emergency pay, overtime and additional pay do not apply to gubernatorial appointees.
Manibusan also asked the court to declare that the director of personnel and the governor did not have the power to authorize additional compensation, except in cases provided for by law; and that allowances exceeding the salary ceiling can only be authorized in the cases provided for by law.
The AG is seeking a judgment of $46,892.96 for the recovery of illegal typhoon bonus payments, overtime payments, or overtime payments not authorized by law, without valid appropriation and in excess of the salary cap, including prejudgment and postjudgment interest, and trial costs.
Guerrero was appointed by Governor Ralph DLG Torres as DPS Commissioner on January 23, 2016.
According to the GA Complaint, on October 23, 2018, just prior to the landfall of Super Typhoon Yutu, Governor Torres issued Executive Order 2018-15 declaring a state of emergency for the CNMI and ordering the activation of the plan. state disaster.
Although Executive Order 2018-15 does not expressly grant administrative leave to non-essential government employees, non-essential employees were sent home on administrative leave in accordance with previous typhoon emergencies, the AG’s lawsuit said.
On October 24-25, 2018, Super Typhoon Yutu made landfall, causing widespread devastation in Saipan and Tinian.
On October 27, 2018, the Governor issued Amended Executive Order No. 2018-16, which issued a Declaration of Major Disaster and Significant Emergency retroactive to October 25, 2018 and invoked his emergency authority under the Constitution. of the CNMI.
This declaration was subsequently renewed on November 24, 2018 for thirty days by the issuance of Executive Order 2018-23 by Acting Governor Victor B. Hocog, and on December 24, 2018 by the issuance by Acting Governor of Executive Order 2018- 27.
On November 2, 2018, Director of the Office of Personnel Management, Isidro K. Seman, issued a memorandum to all department and activity heads authorizing administrative leave and payment of typhoon emergency bonuses .
The memorandum specified that employees retained or called in to provide essential services would receive “administrative leave with regular pay for all regular hours not worked plus twice the base rate of pay for all regularly scheduled hours worked where essential services were performed plus two and one and a half times the base rate of pay for all regular hours of work during which essential services were performed beyond regular hours of work.
On November 16, 2018, the Governor issued Directive No. 2018-003 “authorizing the continuation of special compensation at the rate of 2.5 times the basic hourly rate for government employees engaged in work directly related to the efforts restoration of the Commonwealth”.
The effective date of the directive was retroactive to October 25, 2018 and extended the initial authorization period for the special rate to 30 days with a possible extension of an additional 30 days.
The directive said the bonus would apply to ‘civil and service excepted’ employees, ‘but is limited to hours of work directly involved in typhoon recovery and repair work and in providing assistance. to members of our community affected by the typhoon.
On January 24, 2019, the Governor issued Directive 2019-001 authorizing “special compensation at the rate of 2.5 times the base hourly rate of pay for government employees engaged in work directly related to the Typhoon response from Commonwealth and recovery efforts for the period of November 25, 2018 to January 23, 2019.”
According to the AG lawsuit, Guerrero received a typhoon emergency bonus on the following occasions:
• On November 26, 2018, he received a gross salary of $10,306.91 as an emergency bonus in the event of a typhoon;
• On December 21, 2018, he received a gross salary of $9,917.49 as an emergency bonus in the event of a typhoon;
• On December 31, 2018, he received a gross salary of $9,164.59 as an emergency bonus in the event of a typhoon; and
• On November 11, 2019, he received a gross salary in the amount of $17,504.88 as a typhoon emergency bonus.
Guerrero’s typhoon emergency bonus was paid at a rate of 2.5 times his base salary, according to the lawsuit.
“In total, the defendant received typhoon bounty in the aggregate gross amount of $46,892.96, of which $29,388.08 was paid in fiscal year 2019 and $17,504.88 was paid in fiscal year 2020; however, all wages were for work performed in fiscal year 2019 from October 23, 2018 to January 23, 2019,” the lawsuit stated.
“Other Commonwealth employees, including but not limited to other Governor appointees, also received Typhoon Bonus for work performed during the period October 23, 2018 to January 23, 2019 , and are therefore in the same position as the defendant,” the lawsuit added.