Court asked to compel GovGuam to comply with double pay rule

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Attorney Thomas Fisher argued in court this afternoon to have the judiciary compel the Government of Guam to comply with the Department of Administration's Personnel Rules and Regulations regarding double pay. (Photo by PNC Chief Photographer Allan Balbin)

Attorney Thomas Fisher argued in court this afternoon to have the judiciary compel the Government of Guam to comply with the Department of Administration’s Personnel Rules and Regulations regarding double pay. This, he said, will cut through the barriers of form and procedure.

Fisher represents the petitioner, Steve Topansa, a Guam Police Department officer who has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 16.

“It should be noted that Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, Police Chief Ignacio, Director Birn, and Attorney General Camacho have each refused to give Officer Topasna and others like him their money which they have earned and deserve,” Fisher stated.

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Fisher was ready to argue that double pay for each hour worked must be provided to GovGuam essential workers as required by law. But today’s hearing didn’t get that far.

Judge Anita Sukola said: “Mr. Fisher I see that you filed a Writ of Mandamus and the government did not file a response. Do you know what’s happening?”

Fisher responded: “Short answer, your honor, I don’t know the government’s position. Mr. Canto is here he is representing the Government of Guam.”

The government, however, was not prepared to argue, stating the Attorney General’s office was not served. Atty. James Canto represents the Attorney General’s office, the Guam Police Department, the Department of Administration, and Governor Lou Leon Guerrero.

Fisher called the government’s unpreparedness a ploy to get more time on a matter. Canto stated it was not urgent.

“We need to get it resolved as quickly as possible, of course. The Attorney General just asked for an indeterminate amount of time to respond and that’s why I asked Judge Sukola no let’s get it going. And so, by 5 o’clock on Thursday, they should have some sort of response,” Fisher said.

Fisher added: “He believed it not to be urgent because it involves these people’s paychecks. As I told the judge, that’s not our position. It is urgent because these people are having to go out, they’re on the front line. Their familia lines are all disrupted. They can’t hug their children and so forth. We got to get it resolved.”

Topasna is asking to be awarded double pay for each hour worked during the course of the present emergency declaration, but no sooner than June 5th. He is also asking that the government pay for the cost of the lawsuit and attorney’s fees.

Fisher says that since filing the writ of mandamus, about 100 more GovGuam frontliners have come to the table to push for double pay, one of whom works at the Attorney General’s office.

The hearing was continued to Friday.

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