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Bryant Whitten, LLP

California suit claims retaliation for pregnancy, maternity leave

A California woman filed a lawsuit against the employer who placed her on indefinite leave, alleging sex discrimination as well as negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The former principal is suing the La Canada Unified School District for unspecified damages. She claims that after giving her difficulty concerning time off for prenatal care and maternity leave, the school system later demoted her from principal to teacher before ultimately placing her on indefinite leave.

The lawsuit claims that the woman relocated to California in 2012 to take the principal position at La Canada Elementary School. A month after starting, she informed the superintendent she was pregnant. The superintendent purportedly reacted in a negative manner and shortly afterwards told the plaintiff that the Board of Education was disappointed she had waited to announce her pregnancy. Initially, human resources allegedly failed to provide a clear answer about how much maternity leave would be granted. When the plaintiff was forced to research it herself, she found that, due to the delay, the deadline for disability leave had passed, and that as a new employee, she would only be entitled to 10 days of sick leave.

After her child was born, HR emailed her to state how expensive it was for the school district that the woman was currently out of work. After a number of instances of similarly objectionable treatment, the final straw came when the superintendent informed the woman that the Board of Education was considering terminating her position as principal due to alleged negative relationships with other staff. The woman filed a complaint alleging discrimination and gender-based retaliation because of her pregnancy and her taking maternity leave.

Following this, when she followed her doctor's orders to take more medical leave, she was told she should turn in her keys and clean out her office; an email announcing the appointment of a new principal was sent later that same day. Since then, she was demoted to a teaching position, then placed on leave indefinitely after that offer was revoked. The lawsuit against the school district alleges, among numerous complaints, that an investigative report showed the district's leave policy had not been updated and that the woman was never given a suitable explanation of the options for maternity leave available to her. Any woman in California who has also experienced similarly poor treatment by his or her employer might benefit from contacting an attorney.

Source: mynewsla.com, "Pregnant principal discrimination demotion? Lawsuit!", Stephanie Michaud, Dec. 29, 2016

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