A school bus pulls up to McHenry East High School on Friday.
A school bus pulls up to McHenry East High School on Friday.

McHenry School District 15 and McHenry High School District 156 this week agreed to an almost $1.43 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by bus drivers over allegedly unpaid overtime wages, documents provided by the school systems show.

The suit, which was filed in November 2018 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division, originally included claims exceeding $5 million, according to the initial legal complaint obtained by the Northwest Herald through open records requests.

The school districts “suffered and permitted plaintiffs to regularly work more than 40 hours in given workweeks without proper overtime compensation,” according to the complaint, and “defendants failed to create or maintain a record of daily work hours.”

District 15 is bearing most of the cost of the settlement because it is responsible for managing transportation personnel serving both districts, according to a statement from District 156.

The high school district is contributing $115,000 to the settlement, with District 15 responsible for the remainder.

The settlement includes no admission of guilt on the part of the school systems, District 15 Superintendent Alan Hoffman said.

“Approving this settlement allows the district to avoid further costly and time-consuming litigation, which is in the best financial interest to the district,” Hoffman said in a statement.

Out of the $1.43 million settlement payment from the districts to the dozens of bus drivers, $940,000 will be divided among the plaintiffs, the settlement shows. Included in that amount is $535,800 to be paid to the drivers not as wages but as damages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and Illinois Minimum Wage Law, the agreement shows.

The lead counsel for the bus drivers, Jac A. Cotiguala and Associates, will receive $475,000.

The settlement was reached through a series of mediation conferences before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes, documents show.

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Northwest Herald