A state appeals court has upheld a jury verdict awarding damages to a group that included about a dozen city marshals and police officers who had previously worked for the city’s park and airport police departments. The group demonstrated in court that the city’s consolidation of these departments resulted in a pay disparity between officers over age 40 and younger officers.
At the trial, a statistician testified that officers age 40 or older lost 6.5 years of service on the department’s pay scale while those under 40 lost only 3.7.
Officers from the consolidated departments couldn’t have a rank higher than officer or start with a base salary higher than that of an Austin Police Department officer with 16 years of experience.
The jury had ruled the city had to pay the officers an amount equal to back pay for the salary they would have received, including overtime, had their years of service been accounted for on the police department’s pay scale. Moving forward, the city must pay the officers the salaries commensurate with the settlement.
Note: Any time an employer overhauls a pay scale, it must test the results to determine whether the change disparately impacts any protected group.