The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 26, 2011
Court: Orange County deputies' retro pension formula legal

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgThe Orange County Board of Supervisors has lost an appeal to invalidate a 2001 labor pact that retroactively gives county deputies a 3 percent at age 50 formula for retirement. The county has argued the agreement violates provisions of the California Constitution.

The decision by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles, published today, is a big win for the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. The union also had CalPERS and Jerry Brown, in his former capacity as Attorney General, on its side.

After approving the initial contract in 2001 and renewing it three times, the board shifted positions in 2008. Worried about the $187 million price tag of retroactively applying the enhanced formula, the county filed a lawsuit against the pension's board. Eventually the deputies' union joined the lawsuit.

The case raised several legal issues, but the biggie focused on article XI, section 10 of the state constitution, which prohibits payment of extra compensation to public employees. The county said that applying the formula bump to service years before 2002 amounted to "extra compensation to public employees 'after service has been rendered.' "

The court's three-justice panel said, in essence, "A deal's a deal; live with it."

Here's the ruling. (Hat tip to Blog User E for flagging this.)

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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