December 10 Hearing Concluded and New Hearing Date Set
On December 10, 2013, Judge Flinn, Contra Costa County Superior Court, conducted a hearing on the claims made by the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association and other representatives of active and deferred ACERA members who are challenging the application of AB 197 (part of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act) to those members.
As our members will recall, Judge Flinn issued a preliminary decision in November, stating his determination:
- the retirement boards were not required or authorized under the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 (CERL) or other law to determine that “compensation earnable” under GC 31461 (a Government Code in the CERL) included payments for accrued leave greater than that which was both earned and payable during the final compensation period, regardless of when paid; and
- the retirement boards were not required or authorized under CERL or other law to determine that “compensation earnable” under GC 31461 included payments made at the termination of employment, except those payments that do not exceed what is earned and payable in each 12-month period during the final compensation period, regardless of when reported or paid.
The judge is referring to ACERA members receiving monetary compensation for their earned, unused vacation by either selling it to their employer while still employed or simply having it left on the books at the time they terminate their employment.
In the December 10 hearing, the oral argument focused on the parties’ positions on what has been described as the “vested rights arguments.” The represented employees who filed the lawsuit argued it is possible for some, or all, employees to nonetheless have a vested right to:
- inclusion of payments for accrued leave greater than that which was both earned and payable during the final compensation period, regardless of when paid; and
- determination that “compensation earnable” included payments made at the termination of employment, including those payments that exceed what is earned and payable each 12 month period during which the final compensation period, regardless of when reported or paid.
At the conclusion of the December 10 hearing, the Court indicated it would issue a further ruling on the “vested rights” arguments within the next week or so, and calendared another date for a hearing to be held on Friday, December 20, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. in Department 6 of the Court.
Also, note, in response to ACERA’s attorney’s argument that members who retired before the effective date of AB 197 (as extended by the Court in its Stay Order) were not before the Court and should not be included in any Court order, Judge Flinn confirmed that his eventual judgment in the case will not affect the interests of those retired members.