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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 gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  2. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  3. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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