Topeka The Kansas Association of Public Employees filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court against the state, alleging classified workers had been denied overtime illegally.
Charles Dodson, KAPE executive director, said the suit could cost the state millions of dollars in back pay for workers who put in overtime but were never compensated.
More than 2,100 classified positions exist at Kansas University.
The lawsuit contends that the state has been in violation of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act by wrongly exempting thousands of its employees from eligibility for overtime pay.
``Thousands of Kansas state employees have lost millions of dollars in overtime pay because of the government's noncompliance with the law,'' Dodson said. The suit seeks compensation for workers overtime for the past three years.
MARY HORSCH, spokeswoman for Atty. Gen. Bob Stephan, had no immediate comment.
Dodson said some workers could receive a few hundred dollars in overtime pay if the suit is successful while others could receive thousands of dollars. He said some state workers have been putting in 500 to 600 hours in overtime a year without receiving compensation.
``We don't know how many employees will be involved,'' Dodson said. "We haven't covered the whole state yet.''
He said workers from all departments of state government will be involved, and several hundred workers could end up joining the suit.
Connie Guerrero, spokesman for the state's personnel services division, said this morning that there are about 2,100 classified positions at KU, with another 170 state classified employees working throughout Douglas County.
"They'd probably have any type of job you can think of in the classified ranks at KU," she said.
DODSON SAID employees were treated like hourly workers, except they were not paid overtime. For example, he said, if some state workers had to go to the dentist, they were forced to make up that time later. However, if they worked on weekends, they were not paid.
``In addition, there is evidence, that the state has known of this violation and has deliberately remained in violation of the law,''Dodson said.
``If the court accepts our evidence, the award of back payment for overtime could be tripled,'' Dodson said.