Altman-Bates v. Pub. Emps. Retirement Bd.Annotate this Case
Attorneys employed by the Franklin County Public Defender sought membership and service credit in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System for their years of service prior to January 1999, and challenged a decision the Ohio Public Employees Retirement Board’s denial of service credit. Persons hired by the Franklin County Public Defender on or before December 31, 1984, are public employees entitled to PERS benefits; effective January 1, 1999, the Franklin County Public Defender’s employees have been enrolled in and considered to be members of PERS. During the intervening years, pursuant to the Ohio Public Defender Act (R.C. Chapter 120), the Franklin County Public Defender Commission and its employees paid Social Security taxes on wages and did not consider the office to be a county agency. The Court of Appeals denied relief. The Supreme Court of Ohio granted a writ of mandamus to compel the board to award service credit, rejecting an argument that “there was no person holding the office of Franklin County Public Defender between 1985 and 1999 because a person was appointed as the ‘Director’ of the corporation. The plain language in R.C. 120.14(A)(1) indicates that the attorneys were employed by a public official, and hence, were public employees.