Morganton, N.C. — Forty magistrates from across North Carolina sued the state Tuesday, alleging that going years without raises amounts to a breach of contract and violates their constitutional rights.
The magistrates are seeking back pay, plus interest, and want a judge's approval for a class-action lawsuit, noting all North Carolina magistrates are in the same position.
Pay scales for magistrates are set by statute and are based on the number of years of experience, which according to the suit creates a contractual obligation for the state to pay those rates. The state hasn't fulfilled that obligation since 2009, the suit states.
"Each and every pay period since 2009 constitutes a separate obligation of the State to pay Plaintiffs the amounts promised," the suit states. "Each and every paycheck received by Plaintiffs since 2009 constitutes a separate breach of contract by the State."
In addition to a breach of contract, the magistrates accused the state of an unconstitutional taking of property and violation of their due process rights.
Gov. Pat McCrory, State Treasurer Janey Cowell, Acting State Controller James Dolan and budget director Art Pope are named as defendants in the suit.
“Magistrates, like other state employees and teachers, have gone far too long without a raise, and Gov. McCrory will address that (Wednesday) when he releases his budget," McCrory spokesman Ryan Tronovitch said in an email. "The governor’s budget proposal will be a step towards resolving not only these magistrates’ concerns, but other state employees across and teachers across the state.”