Lawyers representing government workers and retirees statewide filed a petition in Los Angeles Tuesday against the California Public Employee Retirement System, asking a judge to compel the agency to rescind cuts it made to the benefits of many of its retirees.

In the early 2000s, many California government agencies ended automatic cost-of-living adjustment increases in favor of merit pay increases, according to the proposed Los Angeles Superior Court class-action petition.

A CalPERS representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

In 2006, CalPERS promised to include the merit pay increases in its calculation of an employee’s future retirement benefits, just as CalPERS had previously done for COLA increases, the petition states.

To fund the promised benefits, CalPERS collected additional employee and employer contributions for the merit pay as deferred compensation, the petition states. However, in 2017, CalPERS reversed course, refused to pay benefits for merit pay for CalPERS members at the top of their salary range and confiscated the earned, deferred benefits of scores of government workers, according to the filing.

CalPERS made the policy reversal without any due process or opportunity for public comment, according to the petition.

To date, CalPERS has not afforded any alternative form of compensation to make up for the cuts to the retirement benefits for the affected workers, the petition alleges.

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