California judges sue state, CalPERS for backpay
March 31, 2014
A group of California judges has filed a class action lawsuit against State Controller John Chiang and the California Public Employees Retirement System, claiming their salaries and benefits did not keep pace with those of other state workers as required by law. [Public CEO]
On Jan. 21, 2nd District Court of Appeal presiding judge Robert Mallano filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court. Mallano then retired in February.
State workers received salary increases in 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2013-14 while judicial salaries froze, according to the lawsuit. California employees received average salary increases of .97 percent in 2008-09, .21 percent in 2009-10 and .22 percent in 2013-14.
The lawsuit alleges that judges were told last November that they would receive a 1.4 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1, as well as matching pension obligations.
Judges who took office in California on or after Nov. 9, 1994, when the state implemented a two-tier judicial pension system, receive average salaries of $179,486. Their average pensions are $116,973.
San Luis Obispo Superior Court judges make right around the average judicial pay, but they also split an extra $235,000 a year in benefits.
Disparity in pay among judges is common in California. A 1998 law passed by the legislature moved control of judicial benefits away from the county boards of supervisors and into the hands of judges.
CalPERS chief actuary Alan Milligan said at a board meeting earlier this month that the lawsuit, if it prevails, could wipe out most or all recent gains of nearly $100 million in the state retirement system.