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03/14/88 MYRTLE SPENCER v. STATE INDIANA

Filed: March 14, 1988.

MYRTLE SPENCER, BETTY HARPER, JERRY WILLIAMS, CAROLYN WILLIAMS, JUDY RESLER, SANDRA VAN FOSSAN AND JOELLEN EDWARDS, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL THOSE SIMILARLY SITUATED, APPELLANTS (PLAINTIFFS BELOW),
v.
STATE OF INDIANA, APPELLEE (DEFENDANT BELOW)



APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT, The Honorable Anthony J. Metz, III, Judge, Cause No. S186-0435.

Ratliff, C.j., Neal, J. and Robertson, J., Concurs.

Author: Ratliff

RATLIFF, C.J.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Myrtle Spencer, Betty Harper, Jerry Williams, Carolyn Williams, Judy Resler, Sandra Van Fossan and JoEllen Edwards (Spencer), appeal the Marion Superior Court's dismissal of their class action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. We affirm.

FACTS

On March 31, 1986, Spencer filed a class action suit on behalf of all present and former assistant caseworkers for the State Department of Public Welfare alleging that assistant caseworkers perform work comparable to caseworkers and therefore should receive pay equal to the pay received by caseworkers. The state filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Spencer was required to comply with the grievance procedure outlined at IND. CODE 4-15-2-35, and that she therefore could not proceed through judicial channels without first exhausting her administrative remedies. The trial court agreed and dismissed Spencer's class action pursuant to Ind. Rules of Procedure, Trial Rule 12(B)(1). This appeal immediately followed.

ISSUES

Spencer contends she was excused from exhausting administrative remedies and raises several questions for our review:

(1) Is the state employee grievance procedure mandatory or discretionary?

(2) Does Spencer's claim of unequal pay for equal work constitute an unsatisfactory condition of employment under IC 4-15-2-35?

(3) Does IC 4-15-2-35 apply when claimants seek to file an independent class action?

(4) Does the futility exception to the exhaustion requirement apply in this case?

(5) Does the "issue of law" exception to the exhaustion requirement apply in this case?

Discussion AND DECISION

Indiana has long followed the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. State ex rel. Paynter v. Marion County Superior Court, Room No. 5 (1976), 264 Ind. 345, 344 N.E.2d 846; State v. Morand (1976), 169 Ind. App. 604, 349 N.E.2d 718. Except in limited circumstances, if an administrative remedy is available, it must be pursued ...


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