MANHATTAN (CN) – Nine court attorneys in New York City have filed a class action against Unified Court System, claiming they get paid less than their Nassau and Suffolk counterparts in violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
The disparity, the attorneys claim in New York County Supreme Court, stems from legislation in 1977 that combined all municipal and county courts into one state system, making everyone who worked in the courts state employees.
As a result, Supreme Court judges could choose lawyers for jobs previously assigned to law clerks and secretaries, and these positions had no possibility of a salary progression, “regardless of length of service or experience,” the lawsuit claims.
An amendment passed in 1983 allowed more experienced and qualified court attorneys to receive higher pay, but a loophole did not allow the legislation to apply retroactively, the plaintiffs say.
Several reclassifications, the lawyers argue, created an inequitable code allowing Long Island court attorneys to earn more than attorneys in the New York City Family Courts, even though the job duties and workloads are identical. The plaintiffs add that the cost of living is higher in the city.
The New York City attorneys seek a judgment that the disparity violates the 14th Amendment and an order guaranteeing equal pay. They are represented by Neil Lipton with Spivak Lipton LLP.