Friday, May 19, 2006

class action lawsuit got health insurance for PTers in WA state--did it help equal pay bill?

The judge in the health insurance case slammed the legal fiction that we are "temporary" employees even after working in a district for decades:

law firm of Bendich, Stobaugh and Strong, P.C.

The settlement ends a five-year class action lawsuit filed by Eva Mader of Bellevue and Teresa Knudsen of Spokane. They worked more than half-time for 21 and 10 years, respectively. In June 2003, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the instructors and reversed decisions by the Health Care Authority, the Superior Court, and the Court of Appeals that denied the part-time instructors health care benefits in the summer, even though full-time instructors, who also do not work in the summer, have benefits all year.

The Health Care Authority had said that Mader, who worked for 21 years, was not eligible because she was a “temporary” quarter-to-quarter employee. The Supreme Court ruled that the Authority “must examine the actual work circumstances of a state employee, rather than the contracts or titles under which he or she is employed, to determine whether an employee is eligible for state-paid health benefits.” The Court said, “Twenty-one years is not a temporary position.”

This is the kind of thing that should put the fear of God in legislators. They need to know that if they don't end this separate and unequal system, we will seek other remedies. Frankly, I don't see much downside to this, in light of the victories WA got on retirement benefits too, and it probably gives their legislature an incentive to treat the pending equal pay bill seriously since they know a judge may correct their morally and constitutionally defective work if they don't.

Retirement lawsuit in WA state:

Campus Equity Week update from WA state:

Politicians seem to respond to only one of three things:

  1. donations

  2. a large number of angry people

  3. court orders

The first two have gotten mixed results at best here in California. Maybe the relevant committees in the legislature need to know we are considering this, so they could pre-empt it with legislation, and look like the good guys.


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