At the end of their trips, drivers swipe their badges again, but must continue to work "off the clock," the lawsuit says, inspecting the bus, cleaning it, reporting problems, and checking to make sure there are no children asleep on it.
According to the lawsuit, when First Student lands a contract, it creates an "estimated route time." If the driver takes less than the estimate, the driver is paid less. If the driver takes more time, the driver is paid according to the estimated time but an exception report is filed, the lawsuit says.
To be paid after the report is filed, the driver must document the time worked, said the workers' attorney, Patrick T. Cronin of Haddonfield. Cronin said the law requires the employer to keep track of work hours.
Cronin estimated that unpaid time amounted to about a half-hour a day per driver - a significant amount for the drivers, who are paid, he said, $13 to $17 an hour.
"I grew up on food stamps," Cronin said. "Thirty or forty dollars a week buys bread, buys lunches, puts food on the table."
The plaintiffs live in Camden, Gloucester, Burlington, and Atlantic Counties and work in bus yards in Lawnside, Berlin, Delran, and Willingboro as well as others around the state.
First Student is a division of FirstGroup plc, a British company that also operates Greyhound Lines. First Student's website says the company operates 54,000 buses in the United States and Canada, transporting six million students each day.
In 2010, First Student paid $1.5 million to settle a similar wage and hour lawsuit in Maryland.
Contact Jane Von Bergen at firstname.lastname@example.org, @JaneVonBergen on Twitter, or at 215-854-2769. Read her workplace blog at www.philly.com/jobbing