The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that about 1,850 state managers, professional and technical workers are not entitled to additional interest on top of overtime pay and penalties they received from a class-action lawsuit that dates back more than a decade.
If the Oregon Supreme Court decides not to review the decision, one of the state's longest running legal battles will finally end.
Managers, technicians and university professors sought the overtime pay for hours worked after the 1995 Legislature inadvertently dropped overtime exemptions for salaried workers in a bill passed that year.
The error was fixed a couple years later, but a state manager, David Young, sued and won the right to back pay for himself and other workers.
The case has been through the state appellate courts three times.
The first two rounds cost the state more than $52 million in overtime pay and penalties, said Lonn Hoklin, a spokesman for the Department of Administrative Services.
At issue in last week's Court of Appeals decision was whether the 1,850 workers were entitled to interest on the difference between the original amounts of overtime pay granted by the state in 2001 and 2002, after the court's 1999 decision, and the penalty payments later ordered by a Supreme Court decision in 2006.
Judge Paul Lipscomb ruled against the additional interest in Marion County Circuit Court. In upholding Lipscomb last week, the Court of Appeals said the Supreme Court weighed in on a similar issue in a 2002 case.
"The Supreme Court left no doubt that the payment of interest by the state, whether pre-judgment or post-judgment, is precluded unless expressly authorized by the Legislature," Judge Rick Haselton wrote for the court.
John Hoag, the attorney representing the employees, said he would ask the Supreme Court to review the decision, saying the issue of post-judgment interest should be looked at.
"This is a case where people should have been paid six or seven years before they were fully paid," he said. "Certainly, if someone owed the state money, the state would have collected interest from that person."
The amount of interest at stake has not been tallied, but Hoag said his own rough estimate puts the number at about $6 million.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http:www.statesmanjournal.com
OT case might finally be over