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Cypen & Cypen
FEBRUARY 24, 2005

Stephen H. Cypen, Esq., Editor

Never Forget - September 11, 2001


The Sarasota Herald Tribune requested the Florida Department of Education to provide data bases for Florida teachers, including Social Security numbers. The First District Court of Appeal reversed an order requiring the Department to provide the requested data because one request was not verified as required by statute and the other did not further administration of the Title IV-D program of the Social Security Act for child support enforcement, also as required by statute. Florida Department of Education v. NYT Management Services, Inc., 30 Fla. L. Weekly D434 (Fla. 1st DCA, February 14, 2005).


The Florida Public Employees Relations Commission dismissed unfair labor practice charges filed by two unions against the Florida State University Board of Trustees, the University of West Florida Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the State University System. The Commission found that there had been a change in employer from the Board of Education to the boards of trustees by virtue of statutory amendment. In addition, in 2003, the Florida Constitution was amended to create the Board of Governors of the State University System to govern the statewide university system. Thereupon, the two university boards of trustees gave notice that payroll deductions for union dues would cease for their employees, including faculty. PERC rejected the proposition that the university boards of trustees were successors to the Board of Education, bound by the collective bargaining agreements they inherited. On review, the First District Court of Appeal reversed. The order under review articulates no persuasive reason for PERC’s departure from its long-standing interpretation of the statutes it administers or for its abrupt repudiation of private sector precedent in the area. A rule allowing state government to alter terms and conditions of employment unilaterally based solely upon reshuffling in the higher reaches of bureaucracy -- reshuffling that does not alter the work that state employees, whose wages and hours might be affected, must do in the same way at the same place under same supervisors to the same end -- is unlikely to serve the stated legislative purpose to promote harmonious and cooperative relationships between government and its employees. United Faculty of Florida v. Public Employees Relations Commissions, 30 Fla. Weekly D343 (Fla. 1st DCA, February 14, 2005).


The chief environmental scientist for South Florida Water Management District was given a written reprimand, demoted and transferred to a different geographical region. He filed a petition for administrative hearing, challenging this agency action, but because he was an at-will employee, the petition was dismissed for lack of standing. On appeal, dismissal of the petition was upheld because in order to obtain review of administrative agency action a person’s “substantial interest” must have been determined. In that there was no contract of employment and no statute, rule or policy giving the environmentalist a substantial interest, he had no standing and was not entitled to an administrative hearing. Toth v. South Florida Water Management District, 30 Fla. L. Weekly D390 (Fla. 4th DCA, February 9, 2005).


The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has issued another brief. Entitled “What Makes Retirees Happy?,” the piece concludes that understanding the factors that determine well-being of retirees is an important economic and policy topic. Although most previous studies look at only economic well-being, this study examines a broader measure of well-being to see if other determinants are important. The results show that while economic well-being (as measured by income and wealth) does increase overall well-being, the effect is relatively small. Having a defined benefit plan that provides a life-time annuity has a positive impact on the well-being of retirees, compared to having no pension or even just a defined contribution plan. On the other hand, two other factors stand out as having more important effect on well-being. The first is the reason for retirement. If individuals say they voluntarily retired, they express much higher levels of well-being compared to those who did not voluntarily retire. It is likely that if they retired before they had expected to, they may not have completed financial or psychological preparations for retirement, leading to lower well-being in retirement. Indeed, the effects of involuntary retirement may actually be greater than reported here since the involuntarily-retired also have lower levels of income that would increase satisfaction even further. The second major factor is health. Unsurprisingly, those with poor health also experienced dramatically lower levels of well-being. Although neither of these factors is controllable from a policy point of view, they do indicate areas where more research could be done to help assure higher levels of well-being for retirees.


A Fidelity survey of more than 1,800 adults involved in decisions regarding their finances shows that nearly 3 out of 4 Americans believe they will be more financially prepared for retirement than their parents are or will be. Young adults are the most confident: those between 21 and 34 are more confident than those between 35 and 54. In fact, more than 70% of the younger group started saving before age 30, compared to only 54% of the older group. However, 6 in 10 Americans do not currently have tax-advantage accounts (like an IRA), because they “just haven’t gotten around to it” because of lack of time or patience. For the 35 to 54 group, the main excuse for not doing so is lack of funds.

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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.

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