Wrongfully Terminated California Catholic School Teacher Wins Jury Awards Totaling More Than $3.6 Million

No one wants to think about being wrongfully terminated from their job as a result of doing something that would otherwise be a joyous thing, such as having a baby Unfortunately, though, it does occur. When it happens, the law gives those harmed workers certain legal options. And, sometimes, depending on the facts of the case, the options available to the harmed worker may be even more extensive than one might think when it comes to the damages available. To make sure your wrongful termination case yields everything it should for you, have a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney on your side.

K.L., a teacher whose case was reported by NBC Los Angeles, was an employee who found herself in that position. K.L., a science teacher at a Catholic school in South Los Angeles, was seven months pregnant but was not married in the summer of 2012. The parish pastor, who oversaw the school, allegedly told the teacher that the teacher’s pregnancy outside of wedlock would “morally corrupt” the impressionable teenage students at the school, according to NBC Los Angeles. The pastor also allegedly referred to the teacher’s unborn child as “it,” even after the baby’s gender had been openly revealed.

The teacher complained to the school principal but, allegedly, was merely told to “pray,” with no other action being taken. Following the end of the 2012-13 school year, the school did not renew K.L.’s contract for the 2013-14 academic year. The school claimed that it decided not to renew K.L.’s contract due to performance problems she had in the classroom; specifically, a recurring problem with tardiness and several instances of taking phone calls during class.

The teacher sued for wrongful termination, alleging that the stated reasons were merely pretextual. According to the teacher’s complaint, her occasions of tardiness were due to nursing her child and her instances of taking phone calls were limited to answering calls from parents of her students. According to K.L., the real reason for her termination was her having a baby outside marriage. She asserted that any documentation of performance problems was “fabricated” and placed in her file after she began to complain about discrimination, harassment and failure to accommodate her pregnancy and new baby.

While K.L.’s lawsuit might sound like a straightforward case of wrongful termination, the outcome of her action demonstrates how your case can present more opportunities that you might think at first glance. K.L..’s case presented proof that the termination had harmed her, not only professionally and financially, but also emotionally. The teacher presented proof that she was not only a teacher at the school, but also had been a member of the parish affiliated with the school since she was a small child. However, based upon the acrimonious manner in which her employment situation was handled, K.L. felt she could not stay and had to find a new church.

That additional evidence proved to be important. The jury awarded the teacher $171,000 in past lost earnings, $104,000 in future lost earnings, for a total of $275,000 in economic damages. The jury, however, awarded to teacher an additional $3.3 million in non-economic damages, which includes things like pain and suffering. On top of that $3.57 million award against the archdiocese, the jury also gave the teacher an award against the pastor, who owed her $87,500 in punitive damages.

If you have harmed as a result of a wrongful termination, reach out to the Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. We have helped many people over the years who have found themselves in similar situations, and welcome discussing your case with you. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-1073 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Restaurant Manager Lands $7.97M Verdict in Wrongful Termination Case After Her Employer Destroyed the Video that Allegedly Showed the Employee’s Misconduct, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Nov. 14, 2018

How One Bay Area Worker’s Wrongful Termination and Discrimination Case Proved to Be Worth More than $1 Million, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Aug. 23, 2018