Kathleen Williams, a former teacher at Sauganash Elementary School in Chicago, is suing the city school district and the Chicago Board of Education for $5 million, claiming she was fired for being pregnant. Williams started working at the school in 2002 as a substitute teacher and eventually took a full-time position teaching second grade.
On Feb. 23, 2006, Williams told Principal Christine Munns that she planned to take five weeks ofin the fall. In April, Munns told Williams her contract would not be renewed. Munns said the district had made the decision in January to terminate Williams.
Williams contends the termination decision was made in March, and claims the district offered several different reasons for terminating her. She says school officials originally told her she was being fired for taking prior medical leave, and that the story later changed to cite performance issues.
To support her case, Williams produced two exemplary reviews—signed by Munns—from spring 2006. She claims Munns neglected to file those reviews, instead submitting a May review that rated Williams deficient in communication.
Note: Judges often cite multiple or changing reasons for a termination as evidence of discrimination or retaliation. When terminating an employee, make sure your reasons are clearly documented and have the employee sign off on them.
- How to Fire an Employee the Legal Way: 6 Termination Guidelines
- Audit disciplinary records to ensure protected employees aren't being unfairly punished
- Can we switch a salaried employee to hourly to deal with pregnancy-related absences?
- Contracts should spell out at-will employment
- Changing benefits plans? Make transition accurate, timely