Man wins $24K from NID in job complaint; water district appeals
A man who claims he worked for years as an unpaid Nevada Irrigation District employee has won over $24,000 in a formal decision, leading the water district to appeal, Superior Court records state.
Craig Soward, who worked security and maintenance at Scotts Flat Lake, was awarded back pay, interest and damages by a hearing officer with the state Labor Commissioner’s Office. NID has since appealed the decision, sending the case to a Sept. 8 hearing before a Nevada County judge, court records state.
The appeal stems from a hearing officer’s July decision that awarded Soward $24,002.64. Soward had argued he was owed around $150,000, records show.
Rem Scherzinger, NID’s general manager, declined comment when contacted. Soward and James T. Jones, NID’s attorney, couldn’t be reached for comment.
According to the hearing officer’s decision, Soward was hired in April 2004 by Kalyn Management to perform maintenance at the Scotts Flat Lake campground, which is operated by NID. The water district’s recreation director supervised him.
Soward remained in that role until 2009, when Kalyn Management opted against continuing his employment. The recreation director at that time said he could park his trailer at the Cascade boat ramp and provide security.
“Plaintiff testified that at the Cascade side of the facility he provided security at night and performed maintenance work during the day,” the hearing officer’s decision states. “Plaintiff testified that he purchased toilet tissue for the public restrooms, garbage bags and fuel for his tools and did not receive any reimbursement.”
Soward would collect fees from visitors and hold the money until the summer, when regular staff returned. He also locked and unlocked the gates in the winter in the absence of summer staff, the records state.
The decision states that Soward never completed a job application for the position, nor did he receive work schedules or a list of duties to perform. However, a Nov. 5, 2014, letter states that NID was terminating his at-will employment contract at the Cascade Shores day use area. A May 12, 2015, letter addressed to “at will employee” stated that Soward had three days to leave. Additionally, Soward received an Oct. 28, 2015, “three day notice to quit” letter.
“Plaintiff testified that these notices prove that he was employed by NID and that he worked from 2009 until his eviction in December 2015 without receiving any compensation or reimbursement for his out of pocket expenses used to perform his daily tasks,” court records state.
NID argued that it had no record of Soward’s employment. Additionally, Soward would have gone through a hiring process and NID would have records on him, if he’d been employed by the district.
“Plaintiff was never hired by NID as a security person nor to perform any maintenance at the Cascade boat ramp,” NID states in court records.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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