City of Seattle Employees Misclassified as Temporary Workers

January 5, 2006 ( - The city of Seattle has reached a tentative settlement of $11.5 million on charges that it misclassified a group of employees as temporary workers, therefore denying them health benefits.

BNA reports that 2,000 permanent employees were classified as temporary workers.   The preliminary agreement identifies the class of workers as city employees who worked more than a year “at least half time (916 hours) or more, and did not receive some or all of the compensation, benefits and/or status received by the city’s regular employees.”   The agreement covers such employees who worked for the city between October 1996 and May 2005, according to BNA.

The settlement is expected to include payments ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars to approximately 2,000 current and former workers; payments of an additional $20,000 each to four named plaintiffs; and $3.45 million in attorneys’ fees to the law firm representing the workers.   One of the attorneys estimated that most of the payments would be between $3,000 and $5,000.

The class action was filed by four named plaintiffs: two employees who had worked full-time for over four years as “temps” at various city-owned golf courses, another employee who had worked full-time for eight years as a temporary employee in two agencies, and another employee who worked for more than two years as a temporary counselor for the city.

The city made no mention of liability in signing the agreement.

The case is Glaser v. Seattle, Wash. Super. Ct., No. 02-2-29165-1, preliminary approval of settlement 12/19/05.