Morgan & Morgan announces lawsuit against Florida Department of Education

Class-action lawsuit targets teacher bonus pay

A new lawsuit claims school districts illegally docked bonus pay from teachers in order to cover employer taxes and other expenses.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Officials with the law offices of Morgan & Morgan announce the filing of a new lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education over teacher wage violations.

Attorney Ryan Morgan said that teachers across the state, including Chris Alianiello, received bonus through Best and Brightest Scholarship Program, but the amount they received was less than what was promised.

That's because the DOE authorized school districts to deduct from the bonus money that was paid in order to accommodate for employer taxes and other payroll expenses, which Morgan believes is illegal.

“This improperly ‘authorized’ deduction has taken tens of millions of dollars in bonus pay away from teachers who met the qualifications,” Morgan said.

For example, Alianiello was supposed to receive a $6,000 bonus as a new teacher in the 2017-2018 academic year but received $426 less. For the 2018-2019 year, he was supposed to get a $7,200 bonus but the district took $511.

“As a teacher already being underpaid, I was alarmed and bewildered to see that hundreds of dollars had been taken out of my bonuses,” Alianiello wrote in a news release. “This not only affects me, but many of my friends and thousands of hardworking teachers across the state, and I hope to help remedy the situation for all of them.”

Alianiello was an elementary school teacher but has since been laid off.

Morgan estimates that 163,500 teachers across the state received a deducted bonus during 2017-2018 and during the following year, that number increased to 171,000.

"We hope the state and the Department of Education will see the error in their ways and will agree to pay the shorted bonuses back to the teachers," Morgan said.

The class-action lawsuit was filed in Leon County. Click here to read the lawsuit in its entirety.