Lunch Breaks

Fort Smith, AR: (Dec-31-07) A class action lawsuit was brought against the Van Buren School district, stemming from a lawsuit filed by former Coleman Junior High civics teacher Steven Jones. Jones' suit, filed against the district in 2003, alleged that he and other teachers were not paid for non-instructional duty time they were required to work. Sources claimed that the jurors found that teachers were denied the 30-minute, duty-free lunch period that state law mandates. They also found that teachers at Butterfield Junior High School were limited to a 25-minute lunch period and should be compensated for the five minutes they lost rather than the entire 30-minute period. Records show that Jones' lawsuit later was certified as a class action suit. In 2006, it was amended to include a wrongful termination claim from Jones, after Superintendent Merle Dickerson fired him and the school board upheld it.

In a recent development in the case, the Van Buren School Board agreed to settle the 4-year-old lawsuit against the district by paying out $130,000 for settlement of all outstanding class claims, attorneys' fees, a class representative fee and any administrative costs associated with the claims settlement process. [TIMES RECORD: LUNCH BREAKS]

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