Chicago Teachers Awarded Damages for Pregnancy Discrimination

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women symbolEight women who were fired from their teaching positions following the announcements of their pregnancies will receive nearly $300,000 in damages and back pay.

In a lawsuit filed against the Chicago Board of Education late last year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) claimed the principal of Chicago’s Scammon Elementary School fired, threatened to fire, and evaluated poorly the performances of pregnant teachers, with the Board consenting to as many as six of the resulting firings. The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system had previously denied charges of specific targeting of pregnant teachers, insisting the reasoning behind the women’s terminations was “legitimate, job-related and consistent with business necessity.”

However, with Wednesday’s ruling, the school board is required to not only provide monetary compensation to the women, but must also adhere to new discrimination-monitoring guidelines including submitting quarterly reports to the DOJ detailing any complaints of pregnancy discrimination, harassment and retaliation made by school employees. The board also agreed to review its non-discrimination policy and organize training sessions to educate school employees about pregnancy discrimination.

In response to the news, Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal said, “Pregnancy discrimination has been outlawed on the federal level for decades. It’s long overdue that Chicago administrators adhere to the law and to basic human rights standards for women.”

In a statement Wednesday, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta, lauded the court’s decision to side with the women as “an important step toward ensuring that no woman loses her job, faces discipline or endures threats because of her pregnancy.”

Added Gupta, “Our settlement establishes critical measures to provide a workplace environment free from sex-based discrimination.”

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