Two retired deputies win lawsuit against Wicomico Co.

WICOMICO CO., Md. – The Wicomico County Lodge #111 Fraternal Order of Police says one of its members and another retired Deputy have won a lawsuit against Wicomico County.

Retired Wicomico Deputies Mike Bowers and Sam Workman claimed that the County erred when calculating their line-of-duty disability retirement pensions by requiring them to pay back certain worker’s compensation benefits that accused before their retirement. In addition, because retired employees are no longer bargaining unit members, they cannot use the employee grievance process through the FOP.

We’re told Bowers and Workman were both approved by the County for disability retirement after they sustained injuries while performing law enforcement duties. Retired Deputy Bowers was not able to return to full duty after being injured while breaking up a fight between students at Mardela High School in January 2020. Retired Deputy Workman reportedly sustained a permanent injury while on a call for service in 2016.

Worker’s Compensation will open a case to cover expenses after an employee becomes injured at work, and typically there is a chance to settle with the Worker’s Compensation Commission to close the case in exchange for a compensation award. We’re told Bowers and Workman received awards for their injuries from the Commission before their retirement, however, the County reportedly told them to surrender the gross amount of the settlement award, rather than the net amount that the Deputies received after paying attorneys and doctors’ fees. To collect the award, the County allegedly reduced their pension by hundreds of dollars each month, calculated to take over 15 years each to repay the debt.

The Deputies alleged that the reimbursement calculations violated the County Pension Plan. Additionally, the Deputies alleged that the County required that they pay healthcare premiums higher than specified in the plan. The pension plan allows those who receive a medical retirement from the County to retain health care coverage at the same price that an actively serving employee pays.

On Monday, a Wicomico County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of Bowers and Workman on both counts.

“The FOP is pleased with this outcome and its impact on ongoing issues. The efforts of the FOP, Deputy Bowers, and Deputy Workman have been costly and time-consuming. The FOP is hopeful the County will consider these outcomes as it moves forward,” said the Fraternal Order of Police in a statement.

Categories: Local News, Maryland