First special rates settlement checks in the mail

The first reimbursement checks resulting from the settlement of a decades-old special rates back pay lawsuit were mailed this week, National Treasury Employees Union officials announced Wednesday.

The 20-year-old case, which was settled in December 2002 for $173.5 million, affects about 212,000 current and former employees who worked under special salary rates from 1982 to 1988. These employees were paid at higher levels than other workers because they worked in hard-to-fill occupations or locations. But an Office of Personnel Management regulation exempting special rate employees from annual pay adjustments to the General Schedule prevented them from receiving certain salary increases.

NTEU challenged the OPM regulation, and the district court ruled it illegal in 1987. In 1998, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the government owed affected employees back pay, sending the case back to the lower court to determine compensation.

"NTEU fought for this moment for 20 years," said President Colleen M. Kelley. "It's not only gratifying to see these employees get the money they rightly deserve, but having the first payments delivered in the midst of the holiday season is especially satisfying."

Employees who were properly compensated during the 1982-1988 period will not benefit from the settlement. At least 43,000 clerical workers in the Washington area will receive payments, along with various engineers, medical workers and security employees across the country.

For more information about the special rates back pay case, visit or call NTEU's special hot line at 800-750-3406.