33-year-old Barbara Webb has been teaching honors chemistry and coaching sports for nine years at Detroit’s Marian High School, a private Roman Catholic girls’ school. She was given two options when she told her employer she was pregnant: resign or be fired. Could this be wrongful termination?
Webb feels she was given these two options because she got pregnant, “outside the Catholic way.” Webb as alleged the termination letter did not give a reason for the dismissal, but that the school’s administrators referenced the school’s morality clause in conversations. That clause forbids teachers from publicly engaging in or endorsing “actions or beliefs directly contrary to the teachings and standards of the Roman Catholic faith and morality.” The Catholic Church is against artificial insemination and homosexual relationships, both of which Webb is “guilty of.”
Wrong message to Students
The school offered to pay here for healthcare through May if she left quietly. This was in August. And she refused – not only because she was insulted by the offer, but also because she felt it sent the wrong message to her students. “It is part of Marian’s mission to educate women about human diversity and in this have really missed out on a true life opportunity to set an example. Instead they are only perpetuating hate,” she wrote. She went on to say, “That you can’t hide a pregnancy from the public is why I was terminated.”
Webb has not decided if she will press charges. While pregnancy discrimination is definitely illegal, this case might be exempted because the school is a religious institution. Employers are barred from firing someone because of their sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, genetic information and age by federal law. And while some states have passed laws preventing firing for sexual orientation, federal law does not forbid it.