Eye On Olympia

WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2006, 12:11 P.M.

State agrees to settle pay-disparity lawsuit for $30 million…

Washington has agreed to pay $30 million to settle a six-year-old class-action lawsuit based on pay disparities between workers doing the same sorts of jobs, according to an attorney for the workers.

Largely as an artifact from old personnel boards, state workers in virtually identical jobs -- custodians, occupational therapists, office clerks -- can be paid different amounts, depending on whether they're working for a state college or in general government. There seems to be no pattern to the discrepancies, attorney Martin Garfinkel said -- you don't necessarily earn more at a college, say, than at a state agency.

Garfinkel said the settlement -- which must still be okayed by a judge, would require the state to pay close to $21 million in back pay and $9 million for future "salary equalization" over the next five years. (His firm is hoping to collect 11 percent of the settlement.)

The back-pay would cover people who worked for the state between October 1996 and June 2005, and could be hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on length of service, discrepancy in pay compared to other workers, and similar factors. Sorting those payments out will take months, Garfinkel said.

Work for the state -- or used to -- and want to know if you should expect a check or a pay increase?

Here are the jobs subject to a pay increase, if you're underpaid now.

Here are the jobs subject to back pay.

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