Justices slash amount non-merit state employees can get in back pay

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The Indiana Supreme Court has adjusted the time frame for which state non-merit employees who sued for back pay may be able to recover funds. Instead of the period going back some 20 years, the justices decided the non-merit employee’s time period should be the same as merit employees.

In Richmond State Hospital and All Other Similarly Situated State Institutions and Agencies v. Paula Brattain, et al., No. 49S02-1106-CV-327, state workers sued to recover back pay for unequal wages earned between 1973 and 1993. There were four subclasses of workers – merit overtime-exempt; merit overtime-eligible; non-merit overtime-exempt; and non-merit overtime-eligible. Those who worked 40 hours sought back pay because they were paid the same amount as those who worked 37.5 hours.

Marion Superior Judge John Hanley ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them $42.4 million in 2009, but the Indiana Court of Appeals significantly reduced that amount in October 2010. The COA held that the merit employees were only able to recover for a period 10 days before the class-action suit was filed in July 1993 to when the split-class system was abolished in September. The judges didn’t alter the lower court ruling regarding the non-merit employees, in which the trial court held they are owed back pay for a period of time ending the day the state eliminated the split-pay system and going back 20 years. That meant the non-merit employees could get nearly $19 million dollars as compared to the couple million dollars the merit employees were eligible to receive.

Justice Frank Sullivan did not participate in the case. The high court summarily affirmed the COA with respect to its determination on the merit employees’ claims. Addressing the state’s claim that laches should bar the employees’ claims outright, the justices rejected it regarding the merit employees. But they found that it does apply to the non-merit employees’ claims.

The state began the split-pay system in 1967, and the non-merit sub-class representatives began working for the state in 1969. The merit employees initiated the lawsuit in 1993, but it wasn’t until February 2002 that the non-merit employees were added.

“While we think the Attorney General’s contention that laches should bar all claims by all claimants goes a bridge too far, we conclude that the inordinate delay as respects the non-merit claims—filed by amendment forty-five years after they arose—warrants limitation on the damages as to these claims only,” wrote the justices.

The justices ordered the trial court recalculate the non-merit employees’ back pay judgment based upon the same time period as the merit employees.



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

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  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.