The city has agreed to pay $27.7 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that thousands of School Safety Agents performed work they were not compensated for before starting their shifts, for travel between schools and interrupted meal periods.
The 3,879 current and former School Safety Agents who were plaintiffs in the 2017 lawsuit will receive a total of $13,789,357.12 in back pay for all claims that occurred between June 8, 2014 and April 22, 2020. The city will also pay $13,957,718.10 in liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees and litigation expenses. The Agents will receive three years' worth of damages.
Typical Payout $5,300
The median amount each SSA will receive is $5,270, according to one of the law firms that filed the suit.
U.S. District Judge Lorna G. Schofield in Manhattan approved the settlement June 8, writing that it was a “reasonable, and appropriate compromise deemed in the best interest” of the city and the Safety Agents.
The suit, brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act by the law firms of McGillivary Steele Elkin and Spivak Lipton, stated that School Safety Agents were not paid for tasks such as turning on security cameras and unlocking doors that were performed before the start of their shifts, for the time they spent traveling to a second work location, and for work that was done—such as responding to fights—during their 30-minute meal periods.
“The School Safety Agents work long hours protecting students and faculty and ensuring that schools are safe, and they deserve to be paid for all of their work time, including the time they must spend setting up to open the schools, time they work during their unpaid meal periods, and time they spend traveling from one school to another to work overtime shifts,” attorney Gregory K. McGillivary said. “We are pleased that Judge Schofield moved quickly to approve the settlement and we are looking forward to receiving the settlement monies from the City so that the School Safety Agents can receive their damages.”
Didn't Admit Wrongdoing
The agreement does not include an admission of liability from the city or the Police Department. Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci said that it was “critically important” for public-employees to properly request and report their hours.
“While we had meritorious defenses to the allegations in the complaint, we determined that this settlement was in the best interests of the city,” he said.
In February, Judge Schofield ruled that the city owed pay to School Safety Agents for the time they spent driving between different job sites, and that the city miscalculated SSAs’ rate of pay by excluding night-shift differentials in some cases. The city attempted to require that each Agent prove that they worked before the start of their shift and during meals without pay, but the court denied that motion.
The Judge also determined that claims that the Agents were not paid for work they did pre-shift and during their meal periods would be heard by a jury, but the city agreed to settle before trial.
'Got Money They Earned'
Teamsters Local 237, which represents School Safety Agents, assisted with finding employees to sign up for the lawsuit.
“On behalf of Local 237, we want to publicly thank Hope Pordy and her law firm [Spivak Lipton] for getting our members the money they earned and deserved,” the union’s President Gregory Floyd said.
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