Hall County slapped with class action lawsuit

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Hall County has been slapped with a $75 million class action lawsuit by employees who said they’re being cheated out of their pensions. There are about 100 employees involved, and most of them are first responders who put their lives on the line to protect and serve the county.

Many of the employees have worked for the county for decades. They’re now ready to retire, but said they can’t.

“I was eligible for retirement a year and a half ago. Most of us can’t afford to retire because we have nothing to retire on,” said Capt. Brad Rounds with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

In 1998, Hall County put a freeze on pensions. In Capt. Rounds’ situation, that made a difference between a comfortable retirement and staying on the job.

“Twenty-six hundred dollars a month compared to $389 a month,” said Capt. Rounds.

Many of the employees attended the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday night, when the commissioners were served with the lawsuit. While county authorities said they could not comment on the lawsuit, at the start of the meeting Pastor Mike Taylor urged them to do the right thing, saying he stands by the employees.

“Praying for liberty and justice for all and that would be a good prayer for us tonight,” said Pastor Taylor. Taylor is also the chaplain for the Hall County Fire Services.

The freeze went into effect in 1998 and is still in effect. Attorneys for the employees say now that many of the 100 workers are ready to retire, they want their fair share.

“When they started work here, they were promised a benefit that the county gave them, but back in 1998 took away from them, even though they were vested and continued to risk their lives for the county and citizens,” said attorney Michael Kramer.

It was a different board who put the freeze in place in 1998. The attorneys said while the current Board didn’t do it, they have the ability to make it right.

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