A circuit judge has certified a class action lawsuit by police and firefighters in the city of Conway on their claim that the city had not given them pay increases they were due since 2010.
City voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax in 2001 to increase city employee pay and provided pay raises through 2009. The city stopped following a pay grid instituted in 2001 in 2010 and the employees claimed that thsi action amounted to both an illegal exaction of the new sales tax and a breach of contract.
Circuit Judge Troy Braswell ruled against plaintiffs on the illegal action, saying the ordinance only specified that money go for salaries, not specifically for amounts in excess of what was already being paid. But he ruled a city resolution putting a seven-step pay grid into effect in 2001 amounted to a contract and he cleared the way for employees to argue they’d been deprived of pay raises by the city’s decision to stop using the grid in 2010. Tom Thrash, attorney for the employees, called it a “huge victory.”
The decision doesn’t decide the merits of the back pay claim, but it allows it to be made.