LOS ANGELES (CN) – A Catholic school fired an eighth-grade teacher after her boss told her that her pregnancy as an unmarried woman would corrupt her students, she claims in court.
Kourtney Liggins sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Transfiguration School, Fr. Michael Tang and principal Evelyn Rickenbacker on Nov. 20 in Federal Court, alleging discrimination, retaliation and harassment.
Liggins claims that she was seven months pregnant in the summer of 2012 when Tang told her that her “pregnancy would morally corrupt impressionable teenagers” at the school.
“Tang referred to plaintiff Liggins’ then-unborn child as ‘it’ and said that ‘it’ would not be permitted on Transfiguration’s campus,” the lawsuit states.
When Liggins complained to school officials she was told to “‘pray on it,'” she says.
Though Liggins planned to take one year of maternity leave with her baby daughter and return to the school for the 2013-2014 school year, she says that Tang threatened to fire her unless she cut her leave by 6 months.
When she went back to work in December 2012, Liggins says, her pay was cut, she was excluded from important meetings, and the school retaliated against her and her children, who were enrolled in the school.
In May 2013, Liggins claims that out of the blue, Tang produced a packet of complaints about her pregnancy and performance. The complaints were undated, without names and were more than a year old, she says.
“The father of one of plaintiff Liggins’ students later told her that defendant Tang offered to forgive his debt to defendants Transfiguration if he would complain about Liggins in writing,” the lawsuit states.
She claims that the school barred her boyfriend, the father of her baby daughter, from acting as a witness in a school meeting, and banned him from school grounds.
The school fired her in June 2013 after she injured her back while moving a desk at an end-of-year party, Liggins claims.
When she got a hold of her personnel file, an employee counseling notice included forged signatures and forged time cards that made it look like she had been late for class, she claims.
“Plaintiff believes and alleges that defendants’ true reasons for terminating her employment were, among other things, her age, her gender, and her pregnancy,” the complaint states.
She seeks punitive damages and costs.
She is represented by Carney Shegerian, of Santa Monica.
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