Probation officers entitled to earned PTO payout, panel rules

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Holding that probation officers as court employees are entitled to cash payouts of unused paid time off at the time of their separation of employment, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a judgment in favor of a former Hendricks County probation officer.

The appellate panel affirmed a judgment of $11,075.26 in favor of Gwyn L. Green, who left her job after nearly 24 years and sought to cash in her 331 hours of accrued unused PTO. The Hendricks County Council rejected the request, voting 7-0 to deny it, citing to the county policy manual that says PTO would be paid only to eligible employees upon retirement or disability retirement.

Boone Superior Judge Matthew C. Kincaid ruled in Green’s favor in a judgment on the pleadings, and a panel of the COA affirmed Tuesday in Hendricks County, Indiana, et al. v. Gwyn L. Green,18A-PL-2528.

“The trial court reached this conclusion holding that ‘The Hendricks County Courts, and not [the County] (fiscal body), sets the salary and controls the terms, condition, and privileges of Probation Officers,” COA Judge Patricia Riley wrote.

“(W)e hold that, as court employees, probation officers are entitled to a cash payout of unused PTO in accordance with the Court’s employee manual and the County is not entitled to sovereign immunity under the Wage Payment Statute,” Riley wrote for the panel. 

The panel also noted that Hendricks County’s employee handbook explicitly noted its policies may not apply to court employees. The panel also noted that the judiciary typically treats PTO as deferred compensation.

“The Hendricks County Courts’ request, seeking an appropriation from the County to pay Green’s accrued and unused PTO,” Riley wrote, “clearly signaled that the courts considered the County’s PTO policy inapplicable to probation officers, as they are employees of the courts.”

An amicus brief in this case was filed on Green’s behalf by the Probation Officers Professional Association of Indiana, Inc.

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