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Wife is pregnant, job cuts her - possibly illegal actions?

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Wife is pregnant, job cuts her - possibly illegal actions?

Old 04-05-07, 11:13 AM
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Wife is pregnant, job cuts her - possibly illegal actions?

My wife is a catholic school teacher going on 4 years now, she is in her 1st year at the current school. When she transferred to the new school she has signed a letter of intent. Her friends (2) transferred also, however their letters of intent were temporary-sub for 1 year. This means they were hired just to fill the position for 1 school year as the teachers they were filling in for were to return for the fall. The 2 that were returning were coming back from having babies.

In Jan. my wife notifies the principle that she is due at the end of June and will work up to the last day of school. She currently has saved 7 weeks of sick time and plans to use it for the start of next school year. Then she will use the FMLA for 12 weeks and return Jan 1st. The principle had no issues with this. As time progressed, fellow teachers told her that is what they have done in the past also.

2 days ago, my wife was informed by the principle that she will not be retuning in the fall as there are no positions open. The other 2 teachers that were hired temp-sub were informed that they have been hired for the following year. The difference was because those teachers had their masters unlike my wife who is currently working towards hers. It is not a requirement for Catholic schools to have it.

So now thoughts start running in my head that she was let go illegally based on
1) letter of intents, as she was never informed that it was temp for a year

2) she is pregnant and the principle doesn't want to deal with my wife coming back mid year

3) she has 7 weeks of sick time which she will lose if she doesn't use it

4) the federal law of the FMLA is sketchy due to the requirements of working 1 year or 75 employees.

So should we set up a mtg with the Catholic Diocease human resources, retain a lawyer or let it go? The worry that I have is that my wife will not be hired by other schools because she is pregnant and that she will not start the next year until Jan so no one will take her for over a year. The other is that she will be blacklisted by all the scools within the diocease. But a lawsuit could pay for her to be off for a year or more.

What are your thoughts and recommendations.
Old 04-05-07, 11:20 AM
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Interesting. Obviously, they can't let her go while she's on Family Medical Leave. But can they let her go once she's given intent to use it?
Old 04-05-07, 11:42 AM
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Was she hired for a permanent position?
Depending on a state, your employer can terminate you at will, no reason necessary.
In your wife's case, her credentials aren't as good as her friends, she'll be gone for half a year out of the full scholl year, and she's been there under a year which doesn't even guarantee her paid maternity leave.
You can consult a lawyer but i'm not sure if you have any legal ground. After all, they're not terminating her right away, they're just not expending her contract.
Old 04-05-07, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
Interesting. Obviously, they can't let her go while she's on Family Medical Leave. But can they let her go once she's given intent to use it?
That certain is an interesting legal question. If I'm the school's lawyer, I'd argue that her pregnancy has nothing to do with it. I'd argue:

1) At will position
2) Lack of credentials
3) Better credentialed candidates
4) Need for teachers who will be physically there to teach

As OP noted, she might not even be covered by the FMLA even if her pregnancy was a factor.

Honestly, I think you are SOL. This is a crappy situation, but I don't see alot of outs for you. Best thing to do is to secure a letter of recommendation and use it for the next position.
Old 04-05-07, 11:56 AM
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How do you get 7 weeks of sick leave in 1 year of employment?
Old 04-05-07, 11:59 AM
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I got fired from a job for being pregnant. It sucked but it showed me that the company was a shitty one so I took it as God telling me to move on to somewhere else.

Good luck and I would talk with a lawyer. *turns on the Bando-signal*
Old 04-05-07, 12:00 PM
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I would meet with the HR Dept, inform them that the principle knew of the intent, and you will seek counsel if this is not handled.

Then seek counsel if they don't take care of her. And document everything.
Old 04-05-07, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kittydreamer
I got fired from a job for being pregnant. It sucked but it showed me that the company was a shitty one so I took it as God telling me to move on to somewhere else.

Good luck and I would talk with a lawyer. *turns on the Bando-signal*
I'm not getting involved in this one. Too many variables. The OP's wife has to make out a prima facie case the she was a member of a protected class (which she is) and that she was fired for being a member of that class (maybe, maybe not.) Then the school has to present a valid reason for the termination (if was even a termination). Finally, she has to prove that their reason is a pretext for illegal discrimination.

The OP should definitely consult a lawyer, as there are federal and state requirements for filing a discrimination claim in the appropriate administrative agencies within a specificed timeframe - just months after the alleged discriminatory action.
Old 04-05-07, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Chrisedge
I would meet with the HR Dept, inform them that the principle knew of the intent, and you will seek counsel if this is not handled.

Then seek counsel if they don't take care of her. And document everything.

How do you expect them to "handle" this....?
Old 04-05-07, 12:07 PM
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She should tell the school she's a virgin. Problem solved!
Old 04-05-07, 12:08 PM
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was your wife pregnant when she took this job? a lot of organizations hate it with a passion when they aren't informed until after they hire someone. once you are in they don't care about letting take time off, they just don't want you to go for a job and sneak this in
Old 04-05-07, 12:09 PM
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IANAL

"At will" means you can be terminated for virtually any reason, or no reason at all. You cannot, however, be terminated for the wrong reason, such as race, religion, and gender. I'm fuzzy on the laws on pregnancy, but my guess is you can't be "fired" for it.

Keep in mind, though, that it appears she's not being "fired." They are declining to provider her with a position for the following school year. I don't think the FMLA applies, due to the reasons you stated.

The letters of intent probably mean squat. I would consult an employment lawyer if you want to pursue. If you do, though, your wife can pretty much give up on teaching in a local private school again.
Old 04-05-07, 12:09 PM
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I would let it go.

The other 2 have additional qualifications and she is not needed next year.

I'm going to get up on my soap-box here:

Why do people feel that they have a "right" to a job. In my profession I see people getting hired because they are the nephew of a higher up in the company. Kids getting hired because their father is friends with a portfolio manager, even the guy was a childhood friend.

This shit sucks! They are not qualified, they don't have the education, some don't even want the job! But we all have a choice to work where we want. If the school or your employer chooses to hire someone because they look better, dress a certian way, or live in a particuliar area, or are a friend of a friend - then don't work there!!

Why the hell would you take legal action against them? You want to work at a place you just took to court? What does that say about you - that you don't have an indemand skill set so you have to get the courts to force an employer to hire you!

The only way I could see bringing a case - is if a company terminated you early so they would not have to pay out a pension or stock options etc..

I'm not getting down on you - but I say just enjoy the birth of your child, take care of them for a little while and then see what your wife wants to do... who knows this may be a blessing in disguise - another opportunity could open up down the road.
Old 04-05-07, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Duran
IANAL

Someone told me that you were a while back, but thanks for the reminder.....
Old 04-05-07, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
was your wife pregnant when she took this job?
If you read the original post and check the dates, that would be one hell of a long gestation period.
Old 04-05-07, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Duran
IANAL
Yeah, I'm kind of anal too.
Old 04-05-07, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandoman
Yeah, I'm kind of anal too.

Bando like the IANAL....?
Old 04-05-07, 12:36 PM
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Hopefully, your wife as a school teacher, knows how to spell principal.
Old 04-05-07, 12:55 PM
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Yeah, I gotta go with the consensus here. It sucks, but you're on sketchy legal grounds. Probably not worth following up.

Not to sound like a jerk... but don't you think it's fairly unreasonable to ask a school to essentially give up a teacher for the first half of the school year? That's when you're getting to know the kids, setting up a schedule, etc. I can't imagine somebody doing that for half a year, and then handing the reigns over to a different teacher and somehow making that work. That's really unfair to the kids, and to their education, which is the whole point of the school in the first place.

(I know that's what some other teachers at the school have done... but I'm betting they were pretty well established and were a proven commodity. Your wife hasn't really defined herself well enough for the school to go to extraordinary lengths for her.)

Now, I know that this idea sucks, but... what if your wife either A) has the kid in June, and then goes back to work in August, or B) just takes the year off? Maybe she'll find some new work in January, but that's a tough sell. I think you ought to resign yourself to either A or B, and then stick to it. I know personally that A will be tough emotionally, and B tough financially, but I just don't see much of a choice.

Old 04-05-07, 01:00 PM
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To try to sum of some of the questions;
She became pregnant after the school hired her. She is part of the diocese which handles all the teachers for schools but the principals handle the hiring, position placement and downsizing. We would understand if she was hired for the temp-sub positions but she was hired as permanent.

NY is an at-will, she also had received tenure but when you go to a different school, you have to work 1 year to regain your tenure. (Please don't go down the tenure road for this would be a thread of its own)

Her credentials can not be held against her as it isn't a requirement for teaching. In addition she is working on her masters.

Her sick leave accrues as she is in the diocese.

The way I am looking at it is that they know she has 7 weeks, they donít want to pay out on what she has earned, they donít want to deal with hiring a temp for 4 months. It is a dangerous path the principal is taking and I donít think she checked this through the HR. You also canít take someone who is lower on the totem pole and bump a senior person off.
Old 04-05-07, 01:06 PM
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So why don't we just get rid of all the old workers since they drive up the cost of health care and use more sick days, fire all pregnant people and get rid of the FMLA?

The principle could also have told my wife to take the year off also and explain that her position would be held. The other thing is precedent has been set by all the other teachers who have come back mid year.

I am wondering if my wife can say that she will come back when school starts?
Old 04-05-07, 01:08 PM
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How was her performance review? Anything there that might be a tip-off....?
Old 04-05-07, 01:11 PM
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Originally Posted by pyro383
Her credentials can not be held against her as it isn't a requirement for teaching. In addition she is working on her masters.
Of course her credentials can factor in. The other teachers are better educated than her. Wouldn't an employer want teachers who have the best credentials? Why should they "settle" for somebody who meets just the base requirements?

Kudos to your wife for working towards her masters. But recognize that it's not the same thing as actually having one.
Old 04-05-07, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by pyro383
To try to sum of some of the questions;
She became pregnant after the school hired her. She is part of the diocese which handles all the teachers for schools but the principals handle the hiring, position placement and downsizing. We would understand if she was hired for the temp-sub positions but she was hired as permanent.
Unless she has a contract, she's at-will, which means this is irrelevant.

NY is an at-will, she also had received tenure but when you go to a different school, you have to work 1 year to regain your tenure. (Please don't go down the tenure road for this would be a thread of its own)
So what you're saying is that she doesn't have tenure.

Her credentials can not be held against her as it isn't a requirement for teaching. In addition she is working on her masters.
Says who? If I have two applicants for a job that meet the requirements, but one exceeds them, I have to consider them equal? That's ridiculous.

Her sick leave accrues as she is in the diocese.

The way I am looking at it is that they know she has 7 weeks, they donít want to pay out on what she has earned, they donít want to deal with hiring a temp for 4 months. It is a dangerous path the principal is taking and I donít think she checked this through the HR. You also canít take someone who is lower on the totem pole and bump a senior person off.
So she's an employee of the diocese? If so, my suggestion would be to take it up with HR (politely!). If she's an employee of the diocese for over 4 years, the FMLA may apply, although you should consult with an employment attorney on that if you wish to pursue.
Old 04-05-07, 01:17 PM
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I'm asking out of ignorance, not to challenge the point or anything, but if the baby is born late June early July, is it really appropriate to use sick time in September and October? I can see using vacation that has accrued, and taking advantage of the FMLA, and I know that it is common to take a sick day to stay at home with a sick child, but is it considered acceptable or appropriate to use sick time to extend maternity leave that long after the birthdate?

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