Teacher Fired for Becoming Pregnant Out of Wedlock

Woman conceived just days before wedding. School fired her for "fornication."

ByABC News
June 10, 2010, 2:50 PM

June 11, 2010— -- When Jarretta Hamilton, a fourth grade teacher at a Florida Christian school, told administrators she was pregnant, she expected them to ask when she was due.

She did not, however, think her answer would get her fired.

In April 2009, Hamilton told her boss at Southland Christian School in St. Cloud, Fla., that she was pregnant and planned to take a six-week leave in October. When asked when she conceived, Hamilton answered honestly: She became pregnant just three weeks prior to her Feb. 20 wedding.

That was enough to get her fired under the school's strict morality rules, which prohibit teachers from "fornication," engaging in sex before marriage.

"Jaretta was asked not to return because of a moral issue that was disregarded, namely fornication, sex outside marriage," administrator Julie Ennis wrote in a letter to Hamilton's lawyer.

Now, Hamilton is suing the school in federal court, seeking damages for lost wages and emotional distress.

"She was incredibly upset about being fired," Hamilton's lawyer Edward Gay told ABCNews.com. "She was upset that she wasn't able to complete the term with less than two months left in the school year and upset that her fourth graders were told about this."

According to Gay, Hamilton filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but opted out of mediation and chose instead to file suit because of the commission's lengthy backlog.

According to the complaint, Hamilton is suing under federal gender discrimination laws, a state marriage discrimination law and for violations of her privacy.

"The school told the students and their parents why Hamilton had been fired. Disclosing that kind of personal information was a violation of her privacy," Gay said.

"There were never any complaints about her teaching. The school said she was an outstanding teacher," he added.

The school does not dispute the reasons for firing Hamilton, calling sex outside of marriage "an immoral action," but argues that her termination does not rise to discrimination because it employs other pregnant women.