Keeping It Right

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pregnant and Single? Are You a Catholic School Teacher?

Pregnant and Single Catholic Teacher Loses JobAP News

(AP) A former Catholic school teacher in Minnesota is lobbying to get her job back after she says she was forced to resign because she's pregnant and single.

Emily, who doesn't want her last name to be made public, says she's coming forward to help all women who may be in her situation.

"I just don't want it to happen to anyone else. I feel it was an unjust act. I don't feel that anybody deserves to be treated in the way that I was," says Emily.

She'd been teaching 5th grade at a Wabasha, Minnesota school for about a year before she became pregnant. The 23 year old says the principal had been supportive, but later called her into the office were he and a priest asked her to resign. She felt there was nothing else that she could say.

She says she knows the church frowns on people in her condition, but she says it also could use this as an opportunity to show its compassion.

"I think that it's an example for the children that I can be forgiven, and that God forgives everyone for the things they have done wrong," states Emily.

School officials say they can't comment on a personnel issue.

Whoa wait a minute, this has happened before with a different teacher....

Queens Catholic School Hates Single, Pregnant Teachers - 11/22/2005

The NYCLU is getting involved with the case of Michelle McCusker, who was fired from her Catholic school teaching job for being pregnant while unmarried. St. Rose of Lima School in Rockaway says that McCusker violated the "tenets of Catholic morality" (the principal wrote, "When a situation becomes evident that a teacher's life can not [sic] witness what the Catholic Church teaches, then termination of contract must occur"); the NYCLU is claiming gender discrimination, asking how the Catholic school would investigate a male teacher for impregnating a woman not his wife. McCusker is taking the "what else was I supposed to do route?" by saying:

"I don't understand how a religion that prides itself on being forgiving could terminate me because I am unmarried and choose to have a baby...If I decided to abort the baby, the decision to fire me would not have been made because they would not have known."
Which is totally true! McCusker was pregnant when she was hired in September, but only told her principal after the first trimester. The Daily News points out that when an unmarried employee for a Catholic charity in Buffalo was demoted for being pregnant, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission "found that the charity violated anti-discrimination laws."

If the school or church gets any sort of federal funding, we'd imagine that the NYCLU and McCusker have a case, but with our straight-from-the-TV legal knowledge, it seems like the school could argue that McCusker lied when taking the job, since she apparently agreed to the school's handbook. Then again, if a bunch of liberal parents get upset about this, and the church wants to show, oh, say, forgiveness and compassion, then it'll fold and welcome McCusker back. Or at least give her and her baby a settlement.

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