Benton County Employees Lose Lawsuit

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CAMDEN, Tenn. – Benton County employees said when they were hired, benefits were included. Now they say every month thousands of dollars are taken from employees paychecks. In response, Rhonda Tuppit and Beverly Beal along with 35 other employees filed a lawsuit. “We’ve got several employees who do not know how they are going to pay their bills,” Beal said. Employees said each year as insurance premiums go up, they make less money. They filed an injunction to stop the county from removing money from their pay checks and sought reimbursement for the money already taken. The nearly 40 employees said it was unfair because not all county employees are affected. Beal said those paying the higher premiums are picking up the tab for others. “Be fair about it, everyone. Don’t just pick on these select few. Be fair all across the board,” she said. Judge Don. R Ash of Murfreesboro was brought in to hear the case and ruled in favor of the commissioners. Ash said local government was not required to provide a welfare benefit plan to its employees and if it does, they have the right to change or terminate that plan at anytime. Benton County resident Bryan Barksdale said he sees both sides of the issue. “Any job right now is good. But people don’t like change for the worse so I can’t blame them for gripping,” he said. Beal said the decision to file a lawsuit was a difficult one but one she felt was absolutely necessary, even though it costs the county money. “As much money as they’ve put out on these lawsuits, defending these lawsuits, they could’ve more than have paid our health insurance,” she said. Benton County Mayor Barry Barnett declined to comment on the matter. Calls to county commissioners went unanswered.

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