A former Pittsburg teacher is suing her old school district over allegations of pregnancy discrimination.
A former teacher at a Pittsburg school recently filed a lawsuit alleging the school district discriminated against her when she was pregnant and after she returned from maternity leave. As a result of that alleged discrimination, she is seeking a jury trial.
How was she discriminated against, though? What happened, exactly? According to the plaintiff, Jessica Lake, Pittsburg Community Schools USD 250 violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The suit claims the school district “hired Lake as a kindergarten teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School in August of 2020.” Soon after she was hired, the principal at the school learned Lake was pregnant. “Two days before her start date, the district reassigned Lake to Westside Elementary School to teach fifth grade.”
Throughout her pregnancy, Lake continued to teach. However, during her pregnancy, the suit alleges the principal “accused her of sitting down too much.” According to Lake, she experienced a lot of back pain while pregnant, and sitting down helped alleviate that discomfort. Lake argues that “even after a podium to lean on was suggested, she never got that accommodation to help.” As a result, she began standing more to teach, at the principal’s insistence.
In October 2020 Lake informed the principal that she planned on taking 12 weeks of maternity leave, something “available to her under district policy.” According to the suit, the principal told Lake that taking the full 12 weeks would be inconvenient and said “…it would be difficult to find a substitute teacher for that long.” She also added that she thought Lake “would only be taking six weeks of maternity leave.”
On top of that, Lake was allegedly told that “no one else in the district had ever taken twelve weeks of maternity leave.” However, Lake allegedly learned that that was not true, and that other teachers had taken 12 weeks of maternity leave when they had their babies.
To please the principal, Lake eventually agreed to take only 9 weeks of leave. When the time finally came for her to go on maternity leave, Lake alleges the principal “called her during leave several times, requiring her to do work-related things, including parent-teacher conferences via Zoom.”
Things continued to go downhill when she returned to work. Soon after her leave, she had to complete three evaluations/observations. For the first two, she didn’t receive any negative comments. On the third one, however, she was “criticized for failing to address matters that she claims she addressed right before the principal came into the room.”
Soon after, the principal offered her the choice of resigning or being fired.