A teacher is suing a Christian school in Tennessee, alleging that she was fired from her job because of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy.
Tabatha Hutson has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Concord Christian School (CCS) in U.S. District Court after her contract was not renewed when it was found that she became pregnant while unmarried.
According to WBIR, Hutson, who taught the second grade during the 2016 to 2017 academic year, was called to a meeting with the CCS Principal Leigh Ledet in May 2017 after her pregnancy became evident at 11 weeks.
According to her lawsuit, Ledet had asked her during the meeting if she "had anything she needed to tell" the principal.
Hutson responded by saying she was "expecting" and that she and her partner were waiting for the results of genetic tests before they make the announcement about her pregnancy.
Ledet reportedly stated that she would not renew Hutson's contract for the next school year because of her "out-of-wedlock pregnancy," prompting the teacher to ask whether her termination was due to her work performance.
The lawsuit claimed that the principal told her that "work performance played no part in Concord's decision to terminate Ms. Hutson's employment; it was solely due to her pregnancy."
Clint Woodfin, who represents the Baptist-based school in court, argued that the school is legally allowed to fire Hutson, citing a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized "ministerial exception" to employment discrimination laws.
The high court ruling noted that "[t]he Establishment Clause prevents the government from appointing ministers and the Free Exercise Clause prevents it from interfering with the freedom of religious groups to select their own," as reported by Knox News.
Hutson's attorney, James Friauf, contended that Hutson is not a minister, but a kindergarten teacher who was hired because of her knowledge of the school's curriculum.
The lawsuit claimed that Ledet had asked Hutson to "'return to the school once things settled down,' i.e., once Ms. Hutson married her partner and gave birth to her child. In the meantime, advised Ledet, Ms. Hutson could 'straighten racks at SteinMart.'"
Woodfin contended that Ledet never made the remark and claimed that the principal did specifically mention Hutson's pregnancy as the reason for her termination.
The suit, which seeks $2 million in punitive and compensatory damages, further noted that the father of Hutson's child works as a volunteer Sunday School teacher for Concord, but he was not terminated from the position.