A pregnant pause for more questions

Firings are always sensitive, but when you throw a pregnancy and a religious school in the mix, you have a national scandal ripe for television drama.

Jarretta Hamilton was fired from her job as a fourth-grade teacher at private Christian school in in St. Cloud, Fla. She was requesting maternity leave when her boss asked her when she got pregnant. After she told him her child was conceived before her marriage, she was fired.

"Imagine being fired from your job for being intimate with your husband-to-be," Ann Curry begins her segment on MSNBC's Today Show.

Here's Mike Taibbi's voice explaining the story's background:

While the language in the school's letter to her attorney was old-fashioned, the meaning was clear. 'Jaretta was asked not to return because of a moral issue that was disregarded, namely fornication, sex outside of marriage.'

While you don't hear the word "fornication" on a daily basis, since when do reporters declare something old-fashioned?

Curry's questions towards Hamilton appeal to her emotion: how did she feel, what was the reaction, etc. These questions are fine, but I'm still left with some basic questions about her faith and beliefs about sex. For example:

Does the teacher describe herself as a Christian?

Does she think her actions go against what the school stand for (even she thinks it may not have justified termination)?

The Orlando Sentinel also covered the case, explaining some of the tensions behind a firing when the employer discloses the reason for termination.

In the complaint, which asks for a trial by jury, Hamilton alleges her termination was based on the fact of her pregnancy--and that the school offended her by disclosing the information about when she conceived to other school staffers and the parents of students Hamilton taught during the 2008-2009 school year.

Hamilton did not authorize the school to reveal that information, according to the complaint.

She also tried to keep the matter from getting to this point, Gay said. She filed discrimination charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations, but has since exhausted her options.

These are good details, but I'm still left wondering about the specifics of this particular private school. When reporters get a "no comment" or "I decline to comment," they often use it as an excuse to appear to get both sides of the story. Details for the story can be found by asking questions unrelated to this woman's specific case, though.

Does the school request employees to sign any statement of faith or agreement to abide by specific conduct?

Does the school have a statement about a Christians' conduct?

Does the job application request or state anything about employees' belief or conduct?

Is the school connected to a church or denomination?

Last month, tmatt looked at other stories about the tensions in private religious schools and codes of conduct. In this case, I'd also be interested in some broader context. How often do these types of lawsuits come up where a religious school is sued related to a teacher, student, or parent's conduct? A few more details would help readers understand the complexities more than the basic story that teacher was fired for getting pregnant.

Please respect our Commenting Policy