Pregnant, Then Fired: Chicago Schools Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

by | December 17, 2015

By Juan Perez Jr.

Chicago Public Schools will pay $280,000 in damages and back pay as part of an agreement to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought against the district by the federal government last year.

The Chicago Board of Education approved the outlines of a tentative agreement with the government in November after a long period of negotiations. The Justice Department has declined to respond to the Chicago Tribune's questions about the suit and eventual settlement.

The government alleged last year that pregnant teachers at a Northwest Side elementary school received lowered performance ratings and were targeted for firing by their principal. The civil rights lawsuit alleged that from 2009 to at least 2012, Scammon Elementary School Principal Mary Weaver took actions to oust eight teachers who became pregnant or returned to work after their pregnancies.

Weaver subjected pregnant teachers "to disparate treatment with regard to performance evaluation ratings" and other matters, and "there existed a regular, purposeful, and less-favorable treatment of teachers because of their sex (pregnancies)," according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Weaver was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, which sought monetary damages for affected teachers and new district policies to prevent discrimination.

The Chicago Board of Education must also send the government quarterly reports identifying "every complaint of discrimination or harassment related to pregnancy, and every related complaint of retaliation" made by a school employee, as part of the broad agreement filed in court Wednesday. As part of the agreement, the district does not admit to any wrongdoing.

"Chicago Public Schools is fully committed to promoting inclusive work environments free of discrimination or mistreatment," CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement. "We are taking steps to bolster training and policy awareness to ensure every school and office in CPS is a welcoming environment."

The district said it would conduct "training sessions" for district supervisors and review and update its nondiscrimination policy.

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