PCA pay disparity unconstitutional, rules Minn. Appeals Court

The state's effort to reduce pay for some personal care attendants has hit a snag.

The Minnesota Appeals Court ruled Monday that the state's attempt to pay PCAs who care for relatives 20 percent less than other personal care attendants is unconstitutional.

"They have the same training, they have the same experience, they're limited to the same number of maximum hours," said attorney David Bradley Olsen, who represents 11 agencies and several personal care assistants who sued over the matter. "Right down the line, everything is exactly the same until it comes to how much they're going to be paid.

PCA's are often parents or grandparents who care for an adult child or relative for $10 an hour, Olsen said.

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"We have affidavits from a number of our people who we represented saying that they cannot afford to work if their pay is cut 20 percent," Olsen said. "They would have to go outside the home, find different employment or they themselves would have to go on public assistance."

The move to cut pay came in the special session in 2011 as part of a series of cost cutting measures to balance the state's budget. The cuts were only in effect for a couple of days and then delayed until July 1, 2013.

The state has 30 days to petition the ruling to the State Supreme Court. The Department of Human Services is reviewing the ruling.

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