Pregnant teachers illegally fired at Northwest Side elementary, DOJ alleges
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She was a Chicago Public Schools principal of the year, surrounded by children.
But Mary T. Weaver wasn’t too keen on babies being fed at her school, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Justice Department.
“That isn’t over yet,” she allegedly snapped at a teacher who was nursing her child at Scammon Elementary School on the Northwest Side.
“When will you be done with that?”
In fact, the feds say, Weaver was so opposed to young moms working for her that she fired or otherwise forced out eight pregnant teachers in just five years.
And that, they allege, was a violation of the Civil Rights Act, which explicitly prohibits employers from discriminating against female employees because of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.
CPS on Tuesday denied the allegations against Weaver, who was a a winner of its Principal Achievement Award in 2013.
But the feds say they have plenty of evidence. Pregnant teachers at Scammon were given lower performance evaluations, disciplined, threatened with termination, in six cases fired and in two more forced to leave by Weaver, the suit against the Chicago Board of Education alleges.
The feds want a judge to impose a court order requiring the board to put in place policies to end discrimination against pregnant teachers, plus compensation for the teachers who were harmed by the alleged discrimination.
The lawsuit was filed after two teachers who were pregnant while working at Scammon — Jane Bushue and Jennifer Morris — filed sex-discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found “reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred” at Scammon.
It alleges that every teacher who became pregnant was targeted for termination by Weaver, who it says made negative comments to and about pregnant Scammon teachers, including telling them, ”I can’t believe you are doing this to me.
“You are going to be out right before [mandatory] testing!”
Weaver did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
But CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said that though CPS will fight the lawsuit, it “will not tolerate the kind of discrimination or retaliation that is alleged to have taken place at Scammon Elementary School.”
The Chicago Teachers Union called the principal a “bully,” who they say they’ve been complaining about to CPS since 2009.
Staff coordinator Jackson Potter said Weaver “has been up to no good for the last five years,” adding, “We’ve blown the whistle on this principal since the beginning, showed thousands of pages of evidence to the board and attorneys.”
Potter said the teachers targeted for pregnancy decided to take their complaints directly to the EEOC rather than file a grievance. But Weaver has also been accused of screaming at staff in hallways, driving ratings down, “banishing members she didn’t like to more undesirable [assignments] and she’s still in her position,” he added.
“This is the chickens coming home to roost against a problem that has been long brewing, and it’s only the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
At least one of the teachers named as a plaintiff is working again at a CPS school, Potter said.
“No woman should have to make a choice between her job and having a family,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division said in a news release. “Federal law requires employers to maintain a workplace free of discrimination on the basis of sex.”
“Despite much progress, we continue to see the persistence of overt pregnancy discrimination, as well as the emergence of more subtle discriminatory practices in the workplace,” added EEOC Chair Jenny R. Yang.