California residents may be interested in yet another case of employment discrimination involving a mother who was fired from a private Christian middle school for getting pregnant out of wedlock. The 29-year-old teacher was planning to get married to her fiancé last summer, but a series of events delayed their wedding plans. She discovered she was pregnant last fall.
The teacher and coach informed her supervisors of her pregnancy because, she thought, they might be concerned about the dates of her maternity leave over the basketball season, which she was scheduled to coach. She was shocked when she learned she was being wrongfully terminated even though she said she would marry her fiancé. The school turned down her offer stating the kids already knew about her unwed pregnancy so her getting married would not change the fact that she got pregnant out of wedlock.
The school stated that it is not her pregnancy that is at issue but the fact she is an unmarried mother. They consider their teachers to be in the ministry and to be a model and represent what a Christian woman or man should be. The teacher, who was in her third year as the volleyball coach at the Texas school, has 2 children from a previous marriage.
According to school's headmaster, the teacher's two children attended the school. It is unclear whether or not the school took issue with her being their mother and unwed, or just the fact that she got pregnant out of wedlock. Either way it appears to be a case of illegal employment discrimination.
The plaintiff's attorney argues it is unlawful to attempt to insert terms in an employment contract that violate state and federal anti-discrimination laws. Per the Family Medical Leave Act, it is illegal to terminate an employee for taking a pregnancy leave, which is basically what the school is accused of doing. Upholding general Christian values is not enough to evoke the ministerial exception and violate FMLA law, said the attorney.
A complaint was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging the school with gender and pregnancy discrimination and the plaintiff's attorney is preparing a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school on behalf of the teacher.
Watch for next week's post for more information on this case and two others involving religion and pregnancy discrimination.
Source: ABC News, "Texas Teacher Fired for Unwed Pregnancy Offered to Get Married," Christina Ng, April 11, 2012