Claims Can Go Back To 1994 In Toyota Worker' Suit

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (AP) - A central Kentucky judge has ruled that some Georgetown Toyota paint shop workers can pursue back pay claims dating back to 1994.

Scott County Circuit Judge Rob Johnson endorsed, in a ruling late last week, the 1994 date because the Georgetown workers bringing the case originally sued in 1999. The complaint has a five-year statute of limitations.

Toyota attorneys say the the five-year statute of limitations began counting down when Toyota started its pay practice in the late 1980s.

The case centers on whether workers should be paid for the time it takes to put on and remove protective suits and walk to and from their jobs.

"The thing that's most important about the order is that it takes out any question of how long and how far the employees can go back to be paid the correct wage," said Elizabeth Hughes, an attorney for the workers filing the suit.

More than 1,100 employees accepted an earlier settlement from Toyota of $1,000 to affected workers in 2006 for a full year of work for up to five years. But because that allowed only five years of payments, Hughes said some workers are entitled to more back pay.

The case went to the Kentucky Labor Department in 2000 when Toyota attorneys got the case out of circuit court. It returned to court earlier this year when Johnson, citing new case law, ruled it could do so.

Toyota's next step, spokesman Rick Hesterberg said, is to appeal to the state Supreme Court that the case should not have been reopened in Scott County.

--- Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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