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Appeals court hears back-pay arguments

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

Attorneys argued before the Indiana Court of Appeals on an appeal of a Marion Superior judge’s award of more than $42 million to a class of thousands of current and former state employees wanting to recover back pay for unequal wages earned between 1973 and 1993.

Technical difficulties at the appellate court initially prevented the Aug. 23 arguments from being broadcast live or by webcast, but typically those arguments can be viewed online at http://mycourts.in.gov/arguments/. The case is Paula Brattain, et al. v. Richmond State Hospital, et al., No. 49A02-0908-CV-718.

The Indiana Attorney General is appealing the July 2009 ruling in which Marion Superior Judge John Hanley awarded the judgment to as many as 12,000 or more past and present state employees who’d fought to recover back pay for unequal wages earned during those two decades. Judge Hanley found in favor of four subclasses of plaintiffs who’d sued about 16 years ago and nearly reached a settlement last year. The judge found that by requiring plaintiffs and others to work 40 hours a week in “split classes” during those years, the state violated the “equal pay for comparable work” regulation and breached its employment contracts with plaintiffs.

Analyzing the four types of “split classes” the plaintiffs fall into depending on where they worked, Judge Hanley awarded $20.9 million to overtime-eligible employees within state “merit agencies;” $16.7 million to overtime-eligible workers not in merit agencies; $2.7 million to overtime-exempt employees in merit agencies; and $1.9 million to overtime-exempt employees not at merit agencies.

In his ruling, Judge Hanley noted a recent legislative special session estimate showing Indiana spends approximately $38 million per day every day to operate.

Judge Hanley stayed his judgment while the state appeals the outcome of the 17-year-old class action.
 

Rehearing to "Judge awards $42.4 million in back pay suit" IL Aug. 5-18, 2009

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