ILNews

Court rules nurse pay plan proper

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Court of Appeals ruled today Indiana's restructured pay plan for nurses was rational and proper, reversing the judgment of the trial court.

In Madison State Hospital, Indiana Family & Social Services Administration, and State Personnel Department V. Karen L. Ferguson, 09A04-0703-CV-259, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's award of relief to Karen Ferguson. Ferguson, a Nurse Supervisor 5 at Madison State Hospital, and six other nurse supervisors, filed separate complaints with the State Employee Appeals Commission, arguing the 2000 pay scale for nurse supervisors and night nurses was improper because night nurses were being paid more despite the fact nurse supervisors would supervise them.

The pay range for nurse supervisors in 2000 was $43,316 to $60,320 and night nurses $49,036 to $65,356. The state had a difficult time attracting and retaining night nurses, so it increased their pay to more than what a nurse supervisor typically made.

The SEAC consolidated all the complaints and an administrative law judge ruled in favor of the nurse supervisors.

The state appealed, and the SEAC reversed the administrative law judge's ruling. The complainants sought judicial review of the SEAC ruling, and the trial court reversed the decision and remanded to the agency.

All the nurses settled with the state except Ferguson, who filed a second petition for judicial review in May 2006. Ferguson believed the SEAC erroneously found in the state's favor on remand. The trial court then ruled in her favor in January 2007 and again remanded to the SEAC. In February 2007, the state filed notice of its appeal of the trial court's ruling.

The Court of Appeals ruled even though nurse supervisors and night nurses are considered by the state in the same category, the state presented sufficient evidence to support its pay plan. The state collected data from national and local market surveys to determine how much to pay night nurses to work in Indiana. Turnover was not high for nurse supervisors, and even though they too received a raise with the revised pay scale, it was not as high as the pay for night nurses. The Court of Appeals decided the SEAC did not abuse its discretion or act arbitrarily by denying Ferguson's petition and agreed raising the salaries for night nurses above the nurse supervisor's pay is rational and appropriate for the state to do.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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