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Former California principal alleges pregnancy discrimination

It seems hardly believable that a school district in this modern age wouldn't have a policy in place to deal with the maternity leave of one of its administrators.

Yet, that's precisely what the former principal of a California elementary school is alleging. Perhaps worse, the district admits that it wasn't pleased with her pregnancy or requests for accommodation but fails to see that as a problem.

An investigation by the school district into the then-principal's discrimination complaint said that officials had merely focused on "managing" the news of the unmarried principal's pregnancy and other practical concerns. It also admitted that district officials were "annoyed" over the principal's repeated inquiries regarding maternity leave. However, it said that none of that was discriminatory nor led to any discriminatory actions.

The former principal and her attorneys say that the discrimination seems fairly clear. From the first meeting after the newly-hired principal announced her pregnancy to district officials onward she experienced hostility:

-- The district refused to accommodate her after she was told to reduce her work hours in the last weeks of her pregnancy.

-- She was told she'd have to attend multiple out-of-town meetings even though she was still recovering from a C-section delivery.

-- She was told that she was not permitted to bring her daughter, who was breastfed, on the out-of-town trips.

-- She had received above-average evaluations until she finally filed a complaint with the district about the lack of accommodation and discrimination. Then she received a poor annual performance review.

-- When she requested information about the investigation into her discrimination complaint and was told the district had found none, she wasn't permitted to see the full report.

-- She was abruptly relieved of her position and reassigned to a teaching position instead.

The district claimed her dismissal was due to concerns about staff morale, failure in her leadership, her lack of presence at the school, failure to respond to communications, failure to follow through on commitments and over-delegation.

While the case has yet to be tried in court, there certainly seems to be some classic hallmarks of pregnancy discrimination and retaliation, including disparate treatment, unreasonable demands, a refusal to make medically-necessary accommodations and, ultimately, a sudden poor performance rating and demotion after making a complaint.

If you've experienced similar workplace discrimination after a pregnancy, consider talking to an attorney today.

Source: Los Angeles Times Valley Sun, "Former La Canada principal details maternity bias allegations while school board stands by superinendent," Sara Cardine, Jan. 12, 2017

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