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Time to settle school overtime suits

By Staff
Nov. 7, 2001
Lawsuits involving overtime pay for non-certified employees of Meridian and Lauderdale County school districts are winding their way through the courts, but it would seem to be in everyone's best interests if settlements could be reached. That way, both the offended parties, the school districts and the taxpayers who foot the bill might avoid more costly litigation.
Of course, it would take all sides acting in good faith for settlements to be reached in a contentious issue that arose in 1998 with a lawsuit filed by non-certified employees in the Oktibbeha County School District. The employees, mostly bus drivers, cafeteria workers and custodial employees, claimed they were owed overtime pay.
Since that suit was filed, and a Jackson law firm hopscotched around the state soliciting clients, about 70 former and current employees of the Meridian Public School District have filed suit for overtime compensation. Attorney John Compton said school records show the district owes $7,500 to about 20 of the plaintiffs. About 30 former and current employees of the Lauderdale County School District have filed lawsuits for overtime pay.
Some of the individuals in this group of 100 or so may deserve compensation for overtime they worked and need to get their money. Some others may not deserve compensation and should have enough respect for the financial fragility of the public school districts to end their quest.
Either way, in these cases, settling seems to be the best way to avoid additional legal fees, court costs and potential jury verdicts that could reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.