Public Sector Case Notes

JurisdictionCalifornia,United States
AuthorBy Jannah Manansala and Kerriane Steele
Publication year2017
CitationVol. 31 No. 4
Public Sector Case Notes

By Jannah Manansala and Kerriane Steele

Janah Manansala is a shareholder in the firm of Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld in Alameda. She represents labor unions and workers in both the public and private sector in state and federal court, in arbitration and in administrative hearings. In addition to practicing law, she has taught Labor Policy and Law at Cal State University, East Bay. Kerianne Steele is also a shareholder of the firm. She provides general representation to labor unions, primarily in the public sector.

PUBLIC RETIREMENT
County Employees Who Receive Retroactive Awards of Service-Related Disability Retirement Benefits Under County Employees Retirement Law May Recover Prejudgment Interest From Date of Wrongful Denial of Such Benefits

Flethez v. San Bernardino Cnty. Employees Ret. Ass'n, 2 Cal. 5th 630 (2017)

Flethez worked as an equipment operator for San Bernardino County until January 28, 2000. He suffered an injury while performing his job duties in 1998, and underwent surgery for the injury on February 1, 2000. Flethez's last day of regular compensation was July 14, 2000. He underwent further surgeries in 2001 and 2002, and received physical therapy in 2004.

Several years later, on June 12, 2008, Flethez filed an application with the San Bernardino County Employees' Retirement Association (SBCERA) for a service-related disability retirement and allowance. His application was rejected because it lacked a signed medical records authorization and a supporting physician's report. SBCERA later granted Flethez's application in August 2010, effective as of the date of his initial application in 2008, pursuant to Government Code § 31724. That section provides that when a county's retirement board is satisfied that an employee member of the county's retirement system is permanently incapacitated and grants the member a disability retirement, the retirement is "effective on the expiration date of any leave of absence with compensation to which [the member] shall become entitled . . . or effective on the occasion of the member's consent to retirement prior to the expiration of such leave of absence with compensation." Section 31724 also states that "[w]hen it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the board that the filing of the member's application was delayed by administrative oversight or by inability to ascertain the permanency of the member's incapacity until after the date following the day for which the member last received compensation, such date will be deemed to be the date the application was filed."

After the SBCERA set June 12, 2008 as the commencement date for his benefits, Flethez requested review and reconsideration, arguing for the first time that his retirement allowance should have been retroactive under Government Code § 31724 to July 15, 2000, the date following his last day of regular compensation. After a formal...

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