The Yukon government’s Department of Education has filed responses to unpaid wage lawsuits filed against it by five substitute teachers last month. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

Yukon government denies it owes substitute teachers unpaid wages

The Department of Education filed responses July 5 to five lawsuits launched against it by substitute teachers

The Yukon government’s Department of Education has filed responses to unpaid wage lawsuits filed against it by five substitute teachers last month, denying that it owes them pay and that the substitute teachers knew the department’s pay scheme going into the job.

Substitute teachers Monique Lange, Sandra Marguerite Gabb, Ellen Lopushinsky, Geoffrey Bryan Abbott and Lauren Lester each filed lawsuits to the Yukon small claims court in mid-June, alleging that the Department of Education owes them between $1,900 to $5,700 each for hours they worked but were not paid for this year and last.

Their claims add up to nearly $17,000 in allegedly unpaid wages.

The Department of Education filed nearly-identical replies to each of the lawsuits July 5. The replies state that the department disagrees with the substitute teachers’ claims and that it “denies each and every one of the allegations.”

At the core of each of the substitute teachers’ lawsuits is that they are paid a flat daily rate ranging from $136 to $218, but, on pay advice forms, a “full day” of work is listed as five hours. In their lawsuits, the substitute teachers say they regularly work more than five hours a day, each pointing out that the Yukon government’s own school bell schedules do not show a school day that lasts five hours or less. They also claim that they are not being properly compensated for out-of-classroom duties like supervision or preparing for lessons.

However, in its replies, the Department of Education says that the five hours listed on pay advice forms for substitute teachers “is for reporting purposes only and does not correspond to the hours worked by the substitute teacher nor does it reflect expectations of the time substitute teachers are expected to work in a day.”

The department’s replies also say that substitute teachers’ daily rates of pay — which it lists as starting at $140, $5 more than the starting rate listed on its own website — are set out under the Substitute Personnel Regulation, posted on the department’s website and emailed to everyone accepted as a substitute teacher.

“In entering into employment with the (Department of Education) as a substitute teacher, the Plaintiff accepted the daily payment scheme set out in the Regulations,” the replies read.

“The Defendant has paid the Plaintiff in accordance with the Regulations and does not owe the Plaintiff any unpaid wages.

“The Plaintiff cannot pay the Defendant other than as stipulated in the Regulations.”

As of the end of July 5, the substitute teachers have not yet filed responses.

Two of them — Lopushinsky and Abbott — previously told the News that because substitute teachers don’t have a union, they felt they had no way to raise concerns about pay and work conditions other than to take the Department of Education to court.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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