Montgomery Co. teacher's union says employees wrongly charged smoker's fee

- The Montgomery County Schools teacher's union says it believes a glitch is to blame for potentially causing thousands of employees to miss hundreds of dollars from their first paycheck of the year.

The Montgomery County Education Association says they are asking a refund for employees who were charged a fee meant for employees who use tobacco by Montgomery County Public Schools. Each year, MCPS employees are asked to attest to whether or not they are smoke-free. If they or a spouse uses tobacco, a surcharge applies to their health insurance.

The union says it believes about 3,000 of its members have been charged erroneously.

"This has harmed many of our colleagues and we need MCPS to take immediate action," MCEA says in a petition on MoveOn.org.

MCPS says it's possible several hundred employees mistakenly filled out their enrollment forms that ask about smoking too early for answers to be recorded for 2018. It says it's working to refund those employees, but suggested anyone else charged the premium likely didn't complete their smoking attestation by the deadline. MCPS disputes that there is a technical issue.

"Teachers are people who tend to abide by the rules and try to make sure they're doing the right thing. We are certainly doing the right thing for kids every day," said Jennifer Martin, MCEA Vice President.

The education association says it's hard to believe nearly 2,000 of its members did not meet the deadline. In the petition with more than 2,300 signatures, the union is asking MCPS to immediately refund any employee who is not a smoker and has wrongly been charged.

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