Wichita ordered to pay $41,500 in back pay to 18 workers

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered the city of Wichita to pay a total of $41,500 in back pay for 18 housing department employees who were wrongly classified as salaried workers.

City officials confirmed Tuesday that checks will go out this month to 13 current and five former housing department employees who worked jobs as leasing and housing first specialists, management analysts, employment specialists and property managers. The jobs were all ordered reclassified as hourly positions, said Anne Warren, the city’s human resources director.

The money covers extra pay the workers would have received had they been correctly paid by the hour.

The pay mistake runs from May 2010 to May 2012, Warren said.

Federal officials did not provide an explanation for the ruling to the city, Warren said. Department of Labor officials in Chicago did not respond to a request Tuesday for an explanation of the ruling.

“They just ruled they should be moved to non-exempt status,” Warren said.

The job descriptions for the affected positions:

• Leasing specialists approve and re-certify applicants and clients who receive Section 8 housing vouchers. There are six filled positions at City Hall responsible for about 2,600 clients, city officials said.

• Housing first specialists identify landlords to provide housing to the chronically homeless, handle problems and process payments to landlords and utility companies.

• Management analysts handle the financial responsibilities of federal grant management, including payments and contract monitoring.

• Employment specialists provide job preparation skills and case management to low-skilled customers of the city’s career development office, under a contract with the state, and then follow up with job search and retention work. They also provide similar services under grant-funded programs to youths and others who qualify.

• Property managers select tenants for public housing units and work with the issues of the elderly and disabled residents of public housing.

The city’s housing office, headed by Mary K. Vaughn, helps residents obtain affordable quality housing. Its programs include community investments, home ownership, home repair, the Wichita Housing Authority’s housing choice vouchers and public housing programs, homeless programs and a career development office.