Teachers filing lawsuit against Gaston County Board of Education over payroll issues

The teachers made several allegations, including that some were underpaid.
The lawsuit alleges that some employees have been underpaid, faced with multiple deductions, and others drastically overpaid.
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:20 PM EDT
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GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Teachers in Gaston County have sued the Board of Education for ongoing paycheck issues that have plagued hundreds of employees for more than a year now.

Last month, teachers and staff protested during a Gaston County school board meeting.

During that meeting, school district employees raised concerns about the paycheck mistakes impacting their W-2 forms.

Now, in this latest development, a lawsuit was filed in Gaston County earlier this month, alleging employees being underpaid, faced with multiple deductions, with others being drastically overpaid.

The North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) filed the lawsuit on behalf of two teachers, Elisabeth Haywood and Bobbie Cavnar for failing to timely pay earned compensation.

“We have the right to be paid correctly and on-time, that’s part of our state law,” Pam Miller, the president of Gaston County unit of the NCAE, said.

Miller also said the paycheck issue adds a layer of stress that’s not necessary for educators.

The lawsuit seeks $25,000 in monetary damages for overpaying, underpaying and missed paychecks by the school district.

“Having to worry about your paycheck, whether you’re going to have enough money to pay your bills or whether you’re going to have to figure out a way to pay thousands of dollars, that’s a layer of stress we don’t need,” Miller said.

Haywood claims she was overpaid – getting a paycheck of $17,000 and was forced to pay taxes on that payment although it was incorrect, along with claims of multiple and improper deductions for months.

Cavnar claims he was underpaid for months and missed an entire month of pay. In the lawsuit, he reported the issues for months but they were still not fixed.

Officially, the following legal claims were made in the lawsuit:

  • Count 1: Negligence in payroll system implementation, administration, and rectification of known failures.
  • Count 2: Taking of property without just compensation in violation of Article 1, Section 19 of the North Carolina Constitution.
  • Count 3: Infringement of the inalienable right to earn a living and enjoy the fruits of their own labor in violation of Article 1, Sections 1 and 19 of the North Carolina Constitution.

According to the Gaston County Association of Educators, the paycheck issues have been going on for 14 months.

“I hope this is resolved in a timely manner,” Miller said. “I know that’s probably not going to be the case, but the sooner that we can put this behind us and move on the better, and the stronger our school system can be, and the stronger our educators will feel.”

WBTV reached out to Gaston County Schools and the Board of Education Chair for comment about the lawsuit but neither has responded.

Related: State representative confirms Gaston Co. Schools was advised to wait to transition payroll systems