Judge rules Ind. must pay $42 million in back pay - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Judge rules Ind. must pay $42 million in back pay

A judge ruled Tuesday that the state of Indiana owes thousands of current and former employees a total of $42.4 million for 20 years of back pay.

Judge John Hanley issued the ruling Tuesday in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis. A spokesman for the attorney general said an appeal is likely.

The judgment was based on estimates that up to 15,000 state employees worked 40-hour weeks from 1973 to 1993 but received the same pay as others in similar jobs who worked only 37.5 hours.

The state announced a settlement in the 16-year-old class-action lawsuit last year. But the state pulled out after compensation claims by former workers surpassed the settlement's $8.5 million limit. A trial was held in March.

The state ended the former pay system in 1993 when it mandated 37.5-hour work weeks for all employees.

Hanley's ruling comes amid a recession that complicated negotiations earlier this year over Indiana's $27.8 billion two-year budget, which was enacted June 30, the final day of the state's fiscal year.

"This amount will not be widely appreciated for that reason," the judge wrote, but added: "However, these are political considerations and not legal ones. The parties have had numerous opportunities to resolve this litigation over an extended number of years, in good economic times as well as bad, without the necessity of judicial intervention, and they have failed to do so. This decision today is the necessary result of that failure."

The judge cited an estimate by The Indianapolis Star showing the state spending approximately $38 million per day every day of the year.

"The judgment entered by this court today therefore represents barely more than what it costs the state of Indiana to operate for one single day," the ruling said.

The attorney general could challenge the verdict in the appellate courts and seek to delay payment. Bryan Corbin, Attorney General Greg Zoeller's spokesman, said the office was reviewing the decision and an appeal was likely.

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