Thursday, August 03, 2017
Class action lawsuit alleges Joplin R-8 School District cheated bus drivers, aides out of retirement funds
According to the petition, the district did not begin putting money into the Public Education Employees Retirement System of Missouri (PEERS) until 2011, though the law requires automatic enrollment for those who work 20 hours or more per week.
The district and PEERS are listed as defendants.
Plaintiffs in the case are bus driver Todd Palmer, who has worked for the district since 2000, bus aide Jack Long, who has been in that position since 2005, and Sheri Virgin, who just retired after working as a bus driver since 1997.
From the petition:
Under Missouri law, employers have certain obligations to employees who are eligible for PEERS, including making contributions on behalf of the employees. Mo. Rev. Stat. § 169.620(2). Yet, despite their eligibility, the District did not make contributions to PEERS on behalf of bus drivers and bus aides until 2011.
There was no material change in job duties or work schedules for bus drivers in 2011 that would warrant their re-classification as eligible for PEERS. Regarding their eligibility for and membership in PEERS, the District has acted uniformly with respect to all bus drivers and bus aides.
In early 2017, Plaintiffs made a demand on the District prior to filing suit. Other than a non-substantive communication, the District did not respond to the demand.
The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Matthew Lee Dameron, Jefferson City, asks that the judge certify the case as a class action, because hundreds of people have served the R-8 District as bus drivers and bus aides prior to 2011.
The lawsuit asks for a full accounting, for the bus drivers and aides to have retirement contributions made to PEERS for the time prior to 2011, plus costs and attorney fees, and for damages.
The petition notes that the district enriched itself by not paying into PEERS.
The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial.