ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES:
JEFFREY A. MODISETT MARY JANE LAPOINTE
Attorney General of Indiana RICHARD J. DARKO
Lowe Gray Steele & Darko
RACHEL ZAFFRANN Indianapolis, Indiana
Deputy Attorney General
) STATE EMPLOYEES' APPEALS ) COMMISSION, et al., ) ) Appellant-Defendant, ) ) vs. ) No. 49A04-9708-CV-342 ) TOM BARCLAY, et al., ) ) Appellees-Plaintiffs. ) )
Appellant-defendant, the State Employees' Appeals Commission (SEAC) appeals the
trial court's order awarding plaintiffs-appellees, who are fifty-seven teachers at various
institutions within the Indiana Department of Correction (DOC), additional compensation
for hours worked in excess of those worked by their counterparts at other State institutions.
Specifically, SEAC contends that the teachers are not entitled to additional compensation
because the relevant statutes provide for a daily rate of pay equal to that of the largest school
system in the county where that particular institution is located. SEAC also asserts that any
inequality in the number of hours worked did not rise to the level of a state-sanctioned
thirty seven and one-half hours per week. Prior to the hearing, the parties stipulated that a
disparity existed in the hours worked at the various institutions.
On September 19, 1995, a hearing was conducted before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). During the hearing, the teachers argued that, based on State administrative rules, the State was required to pay State employees, within the same classification, equal pay for comparable work. The teachers further contended that, because they were required to work more hours than teachers at other State institutions before the September 1993 directive was issued, they were entitled to additional compensation.
Following the hearing, the ALJ issued an order recommending that SEAC deny the teachers' claims for back pay. SEAC then adopted the ALJ's order and denied the teachers' request. SEAC concluded that the number of hours worked by the institutional teachers did not determine their compensation because the salaries of institutional teachers are not tied to the number of hours worked, but to the salary schedule of the largest school corporation in the county.
On April 11, 1996, the teachers petitioned for judicial review of SEAC's order, claiming that the decision was arbitrary, capricious and unsupported by the evidence. Following a hearing, the trial court reversed SEAC's decision, and entered judgment for the teachers. The trial court determined that the teachers were entitled to back pay, because they should be treated the same as other similarly situated institutional teachers. The trial court further ruled that the teachers should not have been required to work forty hours per week at the statutory rate, while teachers at other institutions worked only thirty seven and one-half
hours per week. SEAC now appeals.
The statutes upon which SEAC relies with regard to an institutional teacher's rate of
pay provide in relevant part as follow:
IND . CODE . § 11-10-5-4:
(a) All teachers employed by the department [of corrections] are subject to all provisions of law concerning the minimum salary of teachers . . .
(b) [T]he commissioner shall prescribe, subject to approval by the state
personnel department and the budget agency, a salary schedule for each
correctional institution, using a daily rate of pay for each teacher, which must
be equal to that of the largest school corporation in the county in which the
correctional institution is located.
(a) Each year the director shall set a salary schedule for each of the educational
systems established in a state institution . . .
(b) The director shall set a salary schedule by using a daily rate of pay for each
teacher that equals the rate of pay of the largest school corporation in the
county in which the state institution is located. If the school corporation in
which the state institution is located becomes the largest school corporation in
the county in which the state institution is located, the daily rate of pay for
each teacher must equal that of the school corporation in which the institution
is located, without regard to whether the school corporation in which the state
institution is located remains the largest school corporation in the county.
(a) The state health commissioner shall annually review the salary schedules
of the largest school corporation of the county in which each special institution
placed under the control of the administrative unit is located to determine the
salary schedule of that school corporation.
(b) [T]he state health commissioner shall . . . prescribe, subject to approval by the state personnel department and the budget agency, a salary schedule for each special institution described in subsection (a), using a daily rate of pay for each teacher, which must be equal to that of the largest school corporation in the county in which the institution is located.
As these statutes reflect, the salary rate for State institutional teachers is calculated by using a daily rate of pay for each teacher equal to the rate of pay of the largest school corporation in the county in which the state institution is located. Thus, institutional teachers' salaries may vary according to the pay rate in each county. Notwithstanding these statutory provisions, the teachers maintain that they must be paid back wages because the State violated its own equal pay for comparable work rule.
In support of their contention, the teachers cite to 31 I.A.C. 2-4-2(a), the equal pay provision, which provides as follows:
All regulations affecting administration of the pay plan shall be designed, in accordance with the intent and purposes of IC 4-15-2-1 of the State personnel act, as amended, to guarantee equal opportunities and equal incentives for entrance to the service, equal pay for comparable work in the several agencies of the state service, and opportunity for advancement according to fair standards of accomplishment.
As the teachers note, there is an apparent conflict between the equal pay provision and the statutes quoted above regarding the pay rate for institutional teachers. Thus, we must turn to our venerable rules of statutory construction.
In construing statutes, our primary task is to determine and implement the intent of the legislature. Indiana Dep't Of Revenue v. Ft. Wayne Nat'l Corp., 649 N.E.2d 109, 113 (Ind. 1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 913. In gleaning such an intent, we presume that the legislature is mindful of court decisions and existing law. Pea v. Pea, 498 N.E.2d 110 (Ind. Ct. App. 1986), trans. denied.
In the instant case, the equal pay provision was promulgated in 1946. However, the
statutes providing for the teachers' daily rate of pay according to the largest county school
system, were enacted several years later.See footnote
Therefore, presuming as we may, that the
legislature was aware of that provision when it enacted the statutes, it must have intended to
exempt institutional teachers from the rule. As a result, the salary rate for the institutional
teachers, in the instant case, is governed by the statutes rather than the equal pay provision.See footnote
Nevertheless, the teachers also rely upon our decision in Arden & Coulter v. State Employees' Appeals Comm'n., 578 N.E.2d 769 (Ind. Ct. App. 1991), trans. denied, in support of their argument that they are entitled to back wages. In Arden, a particular administrative rule required all State employees to work forty hours per week, while another rule authorized only state office employees to work fewer hours per week. Id. at 771. As a result, a system was created that required State institutional clerical workers to work forty hours per week, while permitting state office employees to work thirty-seven and one-half hours per week. Id. at 772-73. On appeal, we held that this system violated the equal pay provision because it required overtime-eligible clerical employees in a given classification to work forty hours per week for the same salary as that earned by other clerical employees in the same classification who work only thirty-seven and one-half hours per week. We also observed that the State had engaged in disparate treatment of certain employees who
performed the same work as their counterparts. Id. at 770-71.
Thus, the teachers contend
that because teachers at all State institutions performed comparable work, the teachers who
worked forty hours per week before September of 1993, are entitled to back wages. We
Despite the teachers' contentions, we cannot say that Arden applies to the instant case. Unlike the clerical employees in Arden, here the employees who are seeking to apply the equal pay provision are institutional teachers. However, we have already stated that the statutes control the institutional teacher pay rate. Additionally, unlike in Arden, we cannot say that the disparity in the pay rate here was state sanctioned. The regulation in effect at the relevant time required all institutional teachers to work a forty-hour week. R. at 18. Although it is undisputed that a disparity existed, nothing in the record reveals that it was due to another regulation adopted by the State. Rather, it appears that the disparity in hours worked stemmed from differing interpretations by institutional supervisors as to how the teachers' hours were to be calculated. R. at 19. Such aberrations or mistakes by individual institutions or supervisors in enforcing the rule did not create the same type of established, state-sanctioned disparity that resulted in Arden. Therefore, according to their arguments set forth above, the teachers have failed to make any showing that they were entitled to receive back wages.
control the institutional teachers' pay rate and provide that those teachers receive a daily rate
of pay based upon the rate of pay of the largest school corporation in the county. We further
note that there was no evidence of any state-sanctioned disparate treatment of teachers who
worked at various State institutions. Thus, we reverse the trial court's judgment and deny
the teachers' claims for back wages.
NAJAM, J., and BAILEY, J., concur.
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