LEWISTON — The U.S. District Court of Maine has rejected a motion filed by Androscoggin County to dismiss Detective Kevin Nichols’ claim he was not paid for wages owed him.

The court issued its order Monday, and the case will move forward.

The case was originally filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court in February 2014, but was moved to U.S. District Court last October after Nichols added a claim under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which falls under the federal court’s jurisdiction.

The county had sought to dismiss the case at the state Superior Court level before it was moved to federal court.

Nichols has been battling the county for back wages since 2012, when he moved from patrol duty in Poland, where he was earning a 29-cent per hour night shift differential, to a day shift working as a corrections officer at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn.

Some weeks after that transfer, on Sept. 20, 2012, Nichols notified then-Sheriff Guy Desjardins that his pay was not being calculated correctly, asserting he was being underpaid his hourly wage.

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The following day, Desjardins sent a letter to county Treasurer Robert Poulin noting Nichols was still being paid the night shift differential even though he no longer qualified for it, and asked Poulin “to take appropriate steps to correct this matter.”

Desjardins calculated Nichols was overpaid $342.73.

Two weeks later, Poulin sent a memo to Nichols noting the overpayment, with instruction that he must refund the overpayment by the end of the year. If Nichols made no effort to refund the wages, Poulin’s memo noted that the overpayment would be automatically deducted from his weekly paycheck over 12 weeks, at $28.56 per week.

According to court records, Nichols objected to the automatic refund and contacted the Androscoggin County Employee Association. The ACEA filed a grievance with the county that Nichols’ base and overtime pay were not being calculated properly, asserting that the county owed him more than $3,200 in back wages.

According to court records, Nichols claims he was supposed to be paid $18.35 per hour and was being paid only $16.91, a difference of $1.44 per hour.

The County Commission denied Nichols’ grievance, and the ACEA requested an arbitration hearing. The county filed to block the arbitration, but the Maine Labor Relations Board ruled against the county and an arbitration hearing was held in July 2013.

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The result of that arbitration was a finding that Nichols should have been paid $18.95 per hour, as he claimed, and the county was ordered to pay him back wages. The first installment of $705.09 was supposed to have been paid by Oct. 16, 2013; the county made the payment on Oct. 25.

Nichols has since claimed that arbitration order does not account for the $342.73 in automatic deductions from his paycheck.

In February 2014, Nichols filed a lawsuit in Androscoggin County Superior Court claiming he was still owed back pay.

According to the county, the amount owed may be less than $200.

According to Nichols’ attorney, John Chapman, that figure totals just over $3,200, not including interest.

In addition to the back wages, Nichols is seeking reimbursement of $150 for his court costs, plus attorney’s fees and damages. Chapman has said he may seek double or triple damages, given the county’s reluctance to abide by the 2013 arbitration award.

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Nichols is one of three detectives in the county’s criminal investigation division.

In October 2014, after a hearing on the county’s initial motion to dismiss the case while it was still in Androscoggin County Superior Court, Chapman called the county and its representatives “demons” for how they’ve treated his client.

“We might not be here if they had paid the entire amount within eight days, under the arbitration” award, Chapman said.

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