Florida Supreme Court Upholds Mandatory 3% Contributions to Pension Plan by Public Employees

In a much anticipated ruling, the Florida Supreme Court ruled (4-3) against government employees by upholding a 2011 law requiring government employees in Florida to contribute 3% of their earnings to a state retirement fund (i.e., the Florida Retirement System (“FRS”)). The ruling reverses County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford’s ruling that the pension changes were unconstitutional because they impaired the obligation of contracts, took private property without full compensation and impaired the right of government employees to bargain collectively.

In the decision written by Justice Jorge Labarga, the Court wrote:

We again hold, as we did in Florida Sheriffs, that the preservation of rights statute was not intended to bind future legislatures from prospectively altering benefits for future service performed by all members of the FRS. We further hold that the 2011 amendments requiring a 3% employee contribution as of July 1, 2011, and continuing thereafter, and the elimination of the COLA for service performed after that date are prospective changes within the authority of the Legislature to make. The preservation of rights statue does not create binding contract rights for existing employees to future retirement benefits based upon an FRS plan that was in place prior to July 1, 2011.

The decision affects over 620,000 public employees who participate in FRS.

Chaired by Brett J. Schneider, WSH's Labor and Employment Law Group regularly represents both union and non-union employers in traditional labor law matters.  Our attorneys regularly serve as chief negotiators on behalf of management in collective bargaining, or we advise the employer's chief negotiator on bargaining strategy and specific issues behind the scenes.  We also conduct post-negotiation training of supervisory personnel to assist in ensuring that collectively bargained changes are properly implemented.  For clients whose employees are not represented by a union and who desire to remain union-free, we provide guidance and counseling to management to ensure positive employee relations in an effort to preserve the non-union status.

Categories: Labor and Employment
Tags: Public EmployeesPublic EmployersCollective BargainingGovernmental LitigationFlorida Supreme CourtRaquel ElejabarrietaBrett J. SchneiderFort Lauderdale Employment Law AttorneysMiami Employment Law AttorneysSouth Florida Employment Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Labor Law AttorneysMiami Labor Law AttorneysSouth Florida Labor Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Employment LawyerFort Lauderdale Employment LawyerMiami Employment AttorneyMiami Employment AttorneyMiami Labor Lawyer
Author(s): Raquel Elejabarrieta