ILNews

Settlement reached in equal pay suit

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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A day before a multi-million dollar class action suit was supposed to go to trial, attorneys reached a settlement in the state employees' equal pay case that is expected to give every plaintiff what they asked for.

The class - made up of as many as 15,000 former state employees - wanted compensation for hours they worked between 1973 and 1993 and didn't receive equal pay of fellow workers, who had only worked 37 1/2 hours compared to their 40 hours a week. A state appellate ruling in 1993 corrected the pay disparity and directed all full-time employee salaries be based on the lower work-hour total, but the state didn't offer compensation for those who'd worked longer hours before the court ruling.

As a result, this suit - Paula Brattain, et al. v. Richmond State Hospital, et. al. No. 49D11-0108-CP-1309 - came in February 2002. It was set for trial Tuesday.

But after "marathon settlement discussions" on Sunday, attorneys reached a compromise and the court approved a preliminary settlement today, according to Indianapolis plaintiffs' attorney John Kautzman.

The settlement states that all claimants adversely affected would receive 100 percent of their back pay, Kautzman said. A 60-90 day claim period will now begin, where any state worker who believes he or she might have been affected can file a claim to receive damages. Since the pay disparity happened so long ago, the estimated number of potential claimants is nearly impossible to assess, he said - the number could range from five to 15,000 people.

A part of the settlement includes a way for the state to rescind its offer, if the total amount paid comes out to be more than $8.5 million, Kautzman said. In that case, the state could ask that the case proceed to trial.

"Both sides think that it won't be that high, but this is a way to proceed in the case if it's larger than any of us anticipated," he said. "The state could still pony up and pay it, and be done. Or they could ask to go to trial."

Kautzman describes this as a victory on several fronts, since the workers can get complete compensation and, even if the state rescinds the offer, plaintiffs could still have their day in court. He expects it will likely be late October or November before all the claims are submitted and it can be determined who will be paid.
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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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