School workers file suit seeking overtime pay
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2000
Sixteen school employees here have joined others statewide by filing a suit in federal court saying they are owed overtime pay.
The suit against the Vicksburg Warren district follows earlier suits by a Jackson law firm against about 30 districts statewide. According to each suit, employees who worked more than one job within the district were paid separately for the positions.
For example, one person who worked 20 hours per week in a school cateteria and 30 hours per week as a bus driver might have gotten a 20-hour check and a 30-hour check, not one check for 50 hours, 10 of which would be at overtime rates.
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If employees worked more than 40 hours combined in a week, they are owed time and a half for overtime under federal wage law, their attorney said.
“We are more than willing to discuss settling this case in a quick and efficient manner,” said attorney for the employees, Jason Ehrlinspiel.
School Superintendent Donald Oakes said the district has already begun a self-audit to identify any employees who may be owed overtime pay.
“It is and always has been our intention to do the right thing by our people and pay them,” Oakes said.
Claims in the lawsuit range from 270 hours to 1,080 hours of overtime owed to the various plaintiffs over a three-year period from 1997 to 2000. The plaintiffs are also seeking attorneys’ fees, expert costs and court costs.
School employees who may be included are teacher assistants, secretaries, cafeteria workers, bus drivers and custodians. Teachers, administrators and supervisors are paid salaries and are exempt from overtime.
Letters have been sent to the 1,150 hourly employees of the school district informing them who to call if they believe they are owed overtime pay. Oakes said the district hopes to begin paying the back-pay within two months.