Berkeley Council of Classified Employees files lawsuit against Berkeley Unified School District

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The Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, or BCCE, filed a lawsuit against Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, Tuesday, alleging that the district is improperly calculating hours of employment and subsequently failing to provide required benefits.

BCCE, which represents more than 600 classified, or nonteacher, employees working in BUSD, says BUSD violated section 45137 of the California Education Code by failing to prorate the hours of part-time employees who consistently work more than their assigned time. According to the lawsuit, BCCE is now petitioning the California Superior Court to compel BUSD to adjust records of hours and provide enhanced benefits accordingly.

BUSD spokesperson Charles Burress said in an email that the district has not yet fully reviewed the suit and has not yet determined its position or what steps BUSD will take in response.

Stewart Weinberg, the attorney representing BCCE in the case, said BUSD has not been providing required enhanced benefits, including vacation time and sick leave as well as medical and dental insurance, in accordance with the mandated formula.

“It’s an interesting case, because BUSD acknowledged that it made a mistake in previous years and adjusted hours in previous years but is declining to adjust hours for the years in question (the last three years),”  Weinberg said.

He also expressed concern that some employees are not aware of their rights, and that for these employees, it is currently difficult to determine what benefits they are entitled to. Weinberg said he hopes that the rightful benefits of these workers will be recognized as the lawsuit progresses.

“My intention now is to engage in discovery, to make the district produce records so we can analyze the records and see how many people are involved and what they’re entitled to,” Weinberg said.

The lawsuit comes after contract negotiations between BCCE and BUSD. BCCE members also staged public protests at recent BUSD board meetings, including demonstrations for higher wages at a meeting last month.

Contact Alex Teodorescu at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @AlexTeodorescu8.