Carney Shegerian of Shegerian & Associates, Inc., a Santa Monica-based litigation law firm specializing in employee rights, is representing a woman, Kourtney Liggins, who claims she was wrongfully terminated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Transfiguration School.
In her complaint, Liggins, who worked as an eighth-grade teacher from 2008 – 2013 at the school, claimed she was discriminated against, harassed, defamed, and ultimately fired because she was teaching in her late 30s and pregnant while not being married. She blames her wrongful termination on the school and some of its officials and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The case is set for trial in Los Angeles on August 30th.
The Catholic school fired Liggins after her boss told her that her pregnancy as an unmarried woman would corrupt her students, Liggins claimed.
Liggins claimed that she was seven months pregnant in the summer of 2012 when her boss at the Catholic school told her that her “pregnancy would morally corrupt impressionable teenagers” at the school. She also claims her supervisor referred to her then-unborn child as “it” and said that “it” would not be permitted on Transfiguration’s campus. When Liggins complained to school officials she was told to “pray on it,” she reported.
Though Liggins planned to take one year of maternity leave with her baby daughter and return to the school for the 2013-2014 school year, in her complaint she explains that her boss threatened to fire her unless she cut her leave by 6 months. When she went back to work in December 2012, Liggins says that her pay was cut, she was excluded from important staff meetings, and the school retaliated against her and her children, who were enrolled in the school at that time.
In May 2013, Liggins, who had a history of exemplary performance reviews and good relationships with her students and their parents, claims that out of the blue, her boss produced a packet of complaint letters about her pregnancy and performance. The letters were undated, without names and were more than a year old, she said. Her filed complaint also reveals that the father of one of her students later told her that her boss had offered to forgive the man’s debt to Transfiguration School if in return he would complain about Liggins’ performance in writing.
Liggins’ complaint also alleges that the school barred her boyfriend, the father of her unborn baby daughter, from participating in a school meeting, and ultimately banned him from school grounds.
The school fired Liggins in June 2013 after she injured her back while moving a desk at an end-of-year party, Liggins claimed. When she got ahold of her personnel file, an employee counseling notice included apparently forged signatures and forged time cards that made it look like she had been late for class, she claimed.
“During our client’s employment at Transfiguration School, she was repeatedly harassed and discriminated against, while pregnant, by coworkers in supervisory positions, leading up to her wrongful termination,” explained Shegerian. “This case is actually representative of multiple issues that have plagued the American workplace for far too long. Unfair treatment of women employees based on age, gender and pregnancy remain a huge problem that simply must stop. It’s clear to us that Ms. Liggins was treated unfairly and fired for these reasons and not for her actual job performance. It’s our job to help her seek justice and hopefully make a public statement that this kind of harassment, mistreatment and wrongful termination – in any workplace – cannot be tolerated.”
Liggins decided to come forward because she believes this is happening to other educators who are being silenced.
(Case no. BC522726)
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