Lawsuit accuses Florida of shortchanging teachers on bonuses

The Florida Department of Education is being sued over allegations it shortchanged teachers when it paid bonuses awarded by the Legislature.

The class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Tallahassee alleges that the department illegally ordered school districts to subtract the employer's portion of Social Security and Medicare taxes from the amount given to teachers, costing each hundreds of dollars annually over two years. The law firm of Morgan & Morgan says under federal law the districts are obligated to pay that portion of the taxes.

The lawsuit says more than 160,000 teachers rated "highly effective" received bonuses during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. Under the program, bonuses of $6,000 and $1,200 were granted. Teachers could receive both.

The Department of Education had no immediate comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.