The plaintiffs were a class of psychiatric security nurses and security attendants who work in the forensic wards of state psychiatric hospitals. They alleged that that state violated their equal protection ?rights ?and ?rights ?under? comparable worth statutes by paying them less than their counterparts in civil commitment wards. ?The trial court found in favor of the employees.?? The state appealed and Division II, 2-1.
The Court of Appeals agreed that the two sets? ?of?? employees? ?had? ?similar?? duties.???? ?The appellate court? applied? rational basis scrutiny to the classification.?? The Court disagreed with the state that historical pay rates were a sufficient ground for the disparate treatment.? ?Any pay difference must be based on actual job differences. The Court found the employees? different collectively bargained wage rates to be a sufficient job difference to justify the differential treatment.?The Court of Appeals held that the state comparable ?worth?? statute ?does ?not ?support?? a private right of action.?? Even if it did, the Court held that an employee must prove that the director of personal would have found the increase necessary, the director of financial management would have approved the increase, and the legislature would have funded the increase.?Judge Bjorgen dissented on the question of whether the comparable worth statute provided a private cause of action. ?Judge Bjorgen would have?remanded to the trial court to provide an appropriate remedy.
Schatz v. DSHS,?? ?— Wn. App. —, 314?P.3d 406 (Div. II Nov. 19, 2013) (Penoyar, Hunt, Bjorgen)