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Former bus attendant for special needs students delivers class action vs CPS over unpaid wages

By Dana Herra | Nov 1, 2016

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A former bus attendant for the Chicago Public Schools has delivered a class action lawsuit against the state’s largest school district alleging he and others like him worked hours for which they were never paid.

The lawsuit was brought by plaintiff Aaron Walker, who once worked for the school district as a child welfare attendant assisting special needs students on school buses provided by third-party busing companies. He filed the four-count complaint against the district demanding lost wages on behalf of himself and others performing the same work for the district.

According to the lawsuit, Walker worked for Lincoln Park High School during the 2013-14 school year. The suit alleges he was consistently required to remain on the bus “attending to and supervising the transport of special needs students” after his shift had ended, but he was not paid for the extra time put in after the end of his shift. Walker contends he should have been paid his regular wage for the extra time, and during the weeks the additional time extended his work week beyond 40 hours he should have been paid time-and-a-half.

The first count of the complaint alleges violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The second count alleges willful violation of the act, claiming that Chicago Public Schools knew Walker was working past the end of his regular shift and that the additional hours were in violation of the law.

The third count claims that because the district did not compensate Walker according to statute, its actions “were not based upon good faith or reasonable grounds” and says he is entitled to liquidated damages.

The fourth count is a supplemental state law claim arguing that Chicago Public Schools violated the Illinois Minimum Wage Law. Under state law, an employer who fails to pay the minimum wage is liable for not only the amount of the unpaid wages, but an additional 2 percent penalty for each month the wages remain unpaid.

Under the first two counts, Walker is asking the court to award back pay for the unpaid overtime, prejudgment interest, court costs and any additional relief the court deems appropriate. On the third count, he requests liquidated damages in the amount of the unpaid wages.

Under the state count, Walker seeks damages to be determined by the court plus court costs.

The lawsuit does not estimate how many other potential plaintiffs may be included in the action, nor how many other such child welfare attendants are employed by CPS; neither does it specify how much money plaintiffs may demand CPS pay as a result of this action.

Walker is represented by attorney John W. Billhorn of the Billhorn Law Firm, of Chicago.


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Organizations in this Story

Billhorn Law FirmChicago Public Schools