Employment Rights for Support Personnel
The legal rights of school district support personnel can differ from those of the
“professional” district employees.
The Fair Labor
Standards Act (FLSA) protects overtime pay for most employees, including classroom
aides, bus drivers, maintenance workers, secretaries, and those in other para-educator positions
and some non-academic administrative positions.
Employers have the option to exempt employees who meet
certain criteria from the wage and overtime requirements. Public school teachers and most
administrators are generally exempted from overtime. "Nonexempt" employees are entitled to
overtime or comp time.
Overtime is time worked in addition to the regular 40-hour workweek. Employers have the right to
set their employees’ work schedules and can require that they work overtime. If employers require
nonexempt employees to work overtime or know they are working and do not make them stop, the employees must
be paid for that work.
Overtime can include hours supervising students while you eat lunch, waiting with students whose
parents are late picking them up, or attending meetings or staff development activities outside of
normal work hours.
Overtime-eligible employees must be paid at their regular hourly rates for the first 40 hours of
work in one workweek. They must be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly pay rate for any hours
worked over 40 hours in a workweek. Employers can offer
comp time rather than paying overtime.
Rather than paying
overtime, employers can allow employees time off in the same
workweek to prevent the employees’ hours from exceeding 40 for that week.
Employers can also give compensatory
(comp) time off in another workweek, as long as the time off equals 1.5 times the time worked over
40 hours. Also, the comp time arrangement must be provided for in district policy or understood or agreed upon by the employer and
the employee prior to the performance of the work.
If the employee leaves employment prior to taking the
comp time, the employer must pay the employee for any time remaining.
School district employees are entitled to at least five days of personal leave per year. Any
unused personal leave carries over to the next year. Personal leave is transferable among Texas
public school districts. Districts may provide additional leave based on and regulated by local
policy. [more info]
The Family and
Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with at least 50 employees to give eligible
employees up to 12 weeks off each year because of their own serious illnesses or to care for new babies or seriously
ill family members. FMLA leave is not paid unless
employees use sick or personal leave. [more
Employees can take paid time off to recover from physical injuries caused by assaults that
occurred during the course of employment duties. Assault leave can be taken up to two calendar
years after the date of the assault.
Workers' compensation insurance pays for medical
expenses related to injuries incurred while performing job duties. Employees who miss work because
of their injuries may also receive payment from workers' compensation for a percentage of their missed
wages. (Also see assault leave
All Texas public school districts must make some type of
group health insurance available to their employees. Districts are not required to pay for
employees’ health insurance.
School employees have the right to participate in
political activities and express their opinions on political matters such as school board or bond
elections. However, they cannot disrupt the workplace.
• Limit your political activities to nonwork hours.
• Retaliate against you because of your political activities.
• Pressure you to vote a certain way.
• Require you to say how you voted or if you voted.
Districts must provide disabled employees with
reasonable accommodations needed to perform their jobs. Individual needs determine what
accommodations should be made, but an employer may not be required to make the best possible
• A scheduled break time for a diabetic to eat
• Special chairs or equipment for someone with a permanent back injury
• Moving supplies to a lower shelf for a person in a wheelchair
When employers make decisions about hiring, assignments, reassignments, employee
evaluations, salaries and terminations, they are legally prohibited from considering the
• National origin
• Age (if 40 years old or older)
Reasons for which districts cannot fire employees:
• Filing a grievance with the district
• Filing a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity
• Filing a workers' compensation claim (see
workers' compensation insurance above)
• Reporting for jury duty or complying with a court subpoena
• Reporting safety violations to an appropriate agency
• Refusing to perform an illegal act
• Presenting a court order requiring the employer to withhold wages for child support
• Being on active duty with a state or U.S. military reserve unit
• Joining a professional organization such as ATPE
Public school employees have the right to speak or make
complaints to their employers about working conditions. Your employer
will have a grievance
policy that explains whom you must talk to and what response the employer is required to make.
Although you have the right to have your employer listen to your concerns, you must follow the
written procedures in this grievance policy. You cannot be
retaliated against for using your employer’s grievance policy.
Public school employees can view and request copies of
their personnel files at any time. Districts must make the files or copies available to employees
within a reasonable time after requests are made. This includes the main personnel files kept in
districts’ central offices as well as files kept by employees’ immediate supervisors.
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The legal information provided on this website is for general purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for
individual legal advice or the provision of legal services. Accessing this information does not create an
attorney-client relationship. Individual legal situations vary greatly and readers should consult directly with an
attorney. Eligible ATPE members should contact the ATPE Member Legal Services Department using our
online system, MLSIS.
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