Clayton County teachers take legal action against ‘bait and switch' pay tactics

by: Tom Jones Updated:

CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. —

Clayton County School District teachers are getting notices in the mail asking them to join a class action lawsuit over how the district pays them. Some teachers are calling it bait and switch.

John Stembridge is an attorney for two teachers who originally filed the lawsuit.

"We refer to the contract, this whole situation, as a bait and switch,” he said.

Stembridge said he and his partner Blake Andrews filed the lawsuit that has turned into a class action suit. Stembridge says Georgia law states there must be definite terms in the teacher contracts. 

"And we feel like by doing this bait and switch and changing the terms of the contract, that the teachers don't know what they're going to have going forward,” Stembridge said.

The two attorneys said teachers would sign their employment contracts based on a salary schedule. They said for three years, the district would then change the schedule, forcing the teachers to work for lower pay.

"The teachers we've spoken with, it's had a very detrimental effect on their morale. It creates an atmosphere of ‘we don't know what we're going to expect,’" Andrews said.

The teachers are also alleging the district paid them for five days they were off during inclement weather in 2011, only to take that money back at the end of the school year.

"It's a week's worth of pay that they lost,” Andrews said.

The spokeswoman for the school system said the district was not aware the lawsuit had reached class action status and because of the pending litigation, it could not comment.

The attorneys said this could affect as many as 3,500 teachers if they all choose to join the lawsuit.