Superintendent Eileen Shafer’s administration allegedly directed custodians and maintenance workers to come in to work to handle non-essential duties in violation of governor Phil Murphy’s Covid-19 executive orders, says a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.
The Paterson Custodial and Maintenance Association, union that represents the district’s 90 custodians and maintenance workers, is seeking an injunction against the district. The lawsuit says the district also allegedly violated New Jersey Board of Education regulations related to the pandemic.
School officials ordered all custodian and maintenance employees to report to work on April 27 to perform “non-essential duties, including routine assignments, non-essential repairs and maintenance and other patently non-essential tasks,” says the suit.
“The foregoing requirements by the Board, places the employees of the District — many of whom are older adults with pre-existing conditions — at risk to their health and safety and the health and safety of their family members in the event of a Covid-19 infection, as well as being contrary to the safety, health and welfare of the public at large,” states the lawsuit.
When the schools closed in late March, the district told custodians and maintenance workers not to return to work and placed them on modified duty or on-call status. Workers were called on to assist in providing “essential services” such as distributing meals, providing school supplies and technology to students, and sanitizing and repairing essential school equipment.
Shafer did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
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