California Courts Not Sympathetic To Employee Claims on PEPRA Pension Issues
by Paul Goyette
A recent string of California Superior Court and Court of Appeals Decisions indicate a clear trend to decline various employee and employer organization challenges to PEPRA. PEPRA is a form of pension reform law that was passed in 2012 and became effective January 1, 2013. PEPRA made several changes to the California public sector pension systems. Most of the significant PEPRA pension reform changes affected only newly hired employees after January 1, 2013. A small number of those changes affected active employees. Since its passage, there have been a number of legal challenges as to various elements of PEPRA. California Courts are almost universally denying those challenges. Most significantly, the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled for the pension system and employer in the case of Marin County Employees Association v. Marin County Employee Retirement System. That case has been recently accepted for review by the California Supreme Court. In addition, the 3rd District Court of Appeals denied the case of San Joaquin County Correctional Officers Association v. San Joaquin County Employee Retirement System. To date, not a single court decision regarding any legal challenges against PEPRA has gone against the retirement system and employer. One interesting note is that the judiciary (meaning all California judges) are exempt from PEPRA. So naturally, they have no problem enforcing the provisions of PEPRA.