Scarlet Letter : Suit Against Religious School by San Francisco Employment Discrimination and Harassment Lawyer Daniel Feder

September 28, 1998

Teacher says she was fired for being pregnant, unmarried.

By Charlie Goodyear, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Francisco Chronicle -- Contra Costa and the Bay Area Section

The Plaintiff in a lawsuit, Jessica Martin doesn't consider herself a sinner.  However, the Walnut Creek religious school that fired her for becoming pregnant out of wedlock branded her with "The Scarlet Letter," according to her attorney Daniel Feder, when it fired her for being pregnant without getting married.

Martin, an Antioch resident, sued the Walnut Creek Christian School.  She alleged pregnancy discrimination and violation of state and federal fair employment laws.

"She has been devastated by this," her attorney, Daniel Feder, said yesterday. "She feels like she has been tarnished with the Scarlet Letter."

She was hired in 1996 as a teacher's aide in the school's kindergarten classes.  Martin was fired on Aug. 5, 1997, two days before she was supposed to apologize to the school board for her conduct, according to the suit filed in Contra Costa Superior Court.

"She wasn't just terminated for being pregnant," Feder said. "They viewed her pregnancy as a significant breach of faith."

But Feder said, "We stand by all the allegations. Jessical Martin is young, highly motivated and very credible. They had no problems with her before this, in fact they renewed her contract. If they didn't dismiss her for the pregnancy then why did they dismiss her?"

Martin, who is in her early 20s and has since given birth to a daughter, has sued the school for unspecified financial damages.  She said her  termination caused her embarrassment, difficulty in finding another job and emotional distress. She filed the lawsuit after lodging complaints in May with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Housing Administration.