At least one of Charleston County School District's outsourced custodians still isn't satisfied that the district paid her what she was owed last year, and she plans to take her dispute to court.
Stacey Pittelkow filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas two weeks ago, and it claims the district intentionally and illegally withheld her pay for the last three weeks of July. The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $7,500, and Pittelkow also hopes to establish a class action on behalf of her former coworkers.
"We believe that all of the class members are due just compensation for the work they actually did," said attorney Eric Saleme with the Mlynarczyk Law Firm that's representing Pittelkow.
Saleme said all of the district's former custodians are owed payment. To bring a claim for each person would be redundant, so making this a class-action lawsuit would be more expedient and efficient, he said.
John Emerson, the district's attorney, said he informed board members of the lawsuit the day he received it. He hadn't had a chance to analyze it closely, but said the outsourced day porters have been properly compensated.
Pittelkow worked as a day porter from August 2005 until July 2011. She's one of 57 custodians who lost their district jobs last summer after the county school board agreed to use private companies for those services. The board's decision prompted strong criticism from employees and the community.
Every custodian was guaranteed a job in the outsourcing agreement, but not everyone accepted the offer. Saleme declined to say whether Pittelkow took that job.
When custodians received their final payouts from the district, some said they weren't paid what they should have been. The situation was further complicated by a poorly written letter that school leaders have said likely confused its former workers about what they were owed.
Although district officials said everyone already received the compensation to which they were entitled, they agreed to pay each outsourced employee up to $1,150 in December because the letter was misinterpreted.
The lawsuit doesn't reference the additional payment, but Saleme said any retroactive payment wouldn't fulfill the district's obligation to its former workers.
Reach Diette Courrégé at 937-5546.