Jarrestta Hamilton has been fired as a fourth grade teacher at Southland Christian School in Florida after administrators declared her a fornicator. Hamilton was about to be married but became pregnant before her vows — leading to her dismissal. She has now filed a discrimination lawsuit.
The problems began at the St. Cloud, Florida school when Hamilton raised the issue of maternity leave. She was already married at the time (April 2009) and was asked about the due date. She admitted that the baby was conceived before the marriage. She is alleging discrimination based on her pregnancy and marital status.
I personally find the school’s actions to be perfectly medieval. However, the school has a right in my view to impose their own faith-based code of conduct as a private institution. Indeed, this appears another example of the increasing conflict between anti-discrimination laws and religious values that I recently explored in a column. Of course, she may be able to show that this is all a sham and merely an effort to avoid the costs of maternity leave — particularly if she can show prior cases handled differently.
We have seen other recent examples of such disciplinary action taken against students (here and here). This is not just religious schools however. Teachers have been disciplined or fired for matters related to their private lives, here and here).
Putting aside the associational rights of the school, Ms. Hamilton has every right to be irate over her treatment and this Hawthornesque action.
For the full story, click here.