Former Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission (ASSEC) employees from 2009 to present, have started receiving notices in the mail that they might be a part of a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s overseeing authority. The lawsuit centers around the results an Alabama Examiner of Public Accounts audit that found that the center internal policies concerning longevity pay and state holidays did not meet the requirements for state employees. This class action does not appear to include employees of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center Education Foundation.
In question are six holidays recognized by the State of Alabama (George Washington’s Birthday, Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday, Confederate Memorial Day, Jefferson Davis’ Birthday, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and American Indian Heritage Day) that are not official U.S. Space and Rocket Center holidays. The other issue is how the longevity pay was calculated resulting in less pay than state regulations require. Examiners have twice found the center in non-compliance and during both audits have recommended that ASSEC re-calculate the longevity pay and pay employees who worked during the holidays not covered by center policy.
The center has fought the findings of the audit noting that the laws regarding state employees do not apply to ASSEC employees. The fact that former employees are suing the center has even come up in ASSEC meeting regarding a state-recommended cost of living adjustment for retirees. One commission member was quick to point out that several of the former employees were actively involved in litigation against the center and if that should be considered in their decision to proceed with the cost of living adjustment.
What happens now…
The case has been certified as a class action lawsuit which means that any ASSEC employee that worked from 2009 until the present is considered a part of the class of plaintiffs.
All members of that class are automatically included in the class action unless they notify the attorney for the plaintiffs that they wish to be excluded by June 8, 2019. This should come as a relief to current employees that may fear retribution for being involved.
However, don’t expect a quick resolution to the case. As of today, the scheduling order for the case shows that both parties should complete mediation on or before March 31, 2020. If mediation fails, both parties have been ordered to be ready for trial by May 1, 2020.