Pastor Denies Wrongful Termination Claims of Pregnant, Unwed Teacher

Reverend Tang, the pastor of a Leimert Park Catholic church testified that the decision not to renew the contract of one of teachers at the Transfiguration School, Kourtney Liggins, was a joint decision between himself and the interim principal of the school associated with the parish. He specified that the decision was not based on the fact that she was pregnant and unmarried. Liggins’ contract was not renewed in 2013. She filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in the Los Angeles Superior Court that specifically alleged wrongful termination in violation of public policy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation.

Rev. Tang claimed during his testimony that parents of students lodged complaints that the plaintiff was late to work regularly and that she was frequently on her phone sending text messages while she was in her classroom. He denied allegations that he held it against her that she was pregnant and not married, or for having children from a previous marriage that resulted in a divorce.

Liggins’ suit named the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Transfiguration School, Reverend Tang and the principal of the school in September 2013, Evelyn Rickenbacker as Defendants. In the summer of 2012, Liggins was seven months pregnant. She alleges that at that point in time, Reverend Tang specifically advised her that her situation, being pregnant and not married, would “morally corrupt the impressionable teenagers at the Transfiguration School.

Liggins, who is now 48 years old, complained about the situation to school officials, but according to lawsuit documents their response was to tell her to pray about it.

Rickenbacker was removed from the list of defendants in the case, but Tang insists that he and Rickenbacker decided jointly not to renew Liggins’ teaching contract for 2013-14. Tang, pastor of the Church of Transfiguration, did note that the Catholic church frowns on women in Liggins’ situation, but stated that the official teachings of the Catholic Church have been interpreted in a pastoral sense. In fact, close to half of the parents at the school are single parents.

Prior to Rickenbacker filling the role, Liggins’ sister, Michele Yerima was principal of the Transfiguration School. She resigned in March 2013, but remained as acting principal. Tang cited Yerima’s involvement in the administration of the school as part of the problem with the case as he claims that many of the parents who lodged complaints about Liggins’ frequent tardiness did not leave their names in fear of retaliation from her sister. Tang claimed that parents were afraid of her; that was her reputation.

If you have been wrongfully terminated or if you need to discuss instances of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Southern Californian Cosmetologist Claims She Was Fired for Getting Pregnant & Preparing for Maternity Leave

June 10, 2015 - A cosmetologist, Shana Wilson, is suing the Sherman Oaks salon that denied her breaks and then fired her for getting pregnant and preparing for maternity leave. Her allegations of the abusive conditions at the salon are similar to other allegations being made in similar businesses in other California cities.

Ms. Wilson filed suit against Nail Garden and her supervisors at the salon, Marc and Sally Awad. Allegations include in Wilson’s suit include pregnancy discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, failure to prevent harassment, workplace retaliation, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, etc. Suit was filed seeking compensation (of an unspecified amount) and punitive damages as well as a desired injunction that would prevent the Nail Garden salon from continuing the same treatment in the future.

Wilson claims she was hired as a licensed cosmetologist in February 2014 after demonstrating her abilities for the Awads. Her job duties included: styling hair, manicures, pedicures and waxing. During her employment, Wilson indicates that she regularly received praise regarding her work from both clients and her employers. Her hairstyling was seen as particularly excellent and was featured numerous times on their Nail Garden social media sites.

Even so, Wilson claims that as soon as she became pregnant (three months after being hired) she was harassed. When she started to have stomach pains in response to bending over to perform pedicures for clients, she requested a reprieve from that particular job duty. Sally Awad started to criticize Wilson’s work and reduced her hours from a full 40-hour work week to 32 hours.

According to the suit, one week after Wilson asked about taking maternity leave, Marc Awad advised her that she was fired due to “complaints about her nail work” from clients. Wilson claims that she was fired because she was pregnant and was planning to take maternity leave. Wilson also alleges that during her time at Nail Garden, her supervisors had her take clients during her breaks and that she did not receive the required itemized statement of hours worked and wages earned. She claims that Nail Garden purposefully failed to compensate her for the full amount of hours she put in on the job.

The problem is so widespread amongst salons that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that he will establish a task force to look into the matter as many are claiming that employees at such establishments are being short-changed and asked to work in unsafe working conditions.

If you need additional information regarding appropriate workplace conditions, wrongful termination or pregnancy discrimination, contact the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik./contact