The State Worker

Thousands of retired California state workers are getting checks in the mail. Here’s why

Surprise checks that have been arriving at the doors of California state retirees can be traced to a 2012 class action lawsuit over late pay.

Former state workers who retired between November 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011 have been receiving checks of up to $14,500 this month, said Sacramento attorney William Kershaw, who represented the retirees in the suit.

The checks started going out Aug. 6 after the case settled for $6.8 million last fall, Kershaw said. He said 2,064 former state workers who weren’t promptly paid when they retired in the five-month window from 2010 to 2011 are receiving them.

The checks average $1,739, Kershaw said.

Kershaw represented Janis McLean, a former deputy attorney general who didn’t receive her final pay within 72 hours after her 2010 retirement and wasn’t fully compensated within within 45 days for leave and vacation time.

In her class action lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court in February 2012, McLean said the delays violated a state law that guarantees prompt pay for employees who quit or are fired. The state argued the law didn’t apply to retirements, and appealed the case all the way to the state Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court sided with McLean in August 2016 but left open questions over who would be included in the settlement, according to court documents. The plaintiffs reached the settlement agreement with the state in November 2018.

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The attorneys representing McLean were entitled to up to 45 percent of the settlement amount, according to court documents. McLean received an additional $25,000 for initiating and prosecuting the case, according to the documents.

The State Controller’s Office has said state law now requires retirees be paid within the same prompt timeframes as employees who quit.

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