A Texas teacher is taking legal action after she was fired from a Christian middle school for being pregnant and unmarried.
29 year old Cathy Samford, who was a volleyball coach and science teacher at Heritage Christian Academy in Rockwall, Texas, said she had no idea she would lose her job over her pregnancy.
“I’m not just some teacher that went out to a bar and got pregnant went back to school saying it’s okay,” she said. “I was in a committed relationship the whole time, and probably would have been married if things had gone differently and this would be a non-situation.”
Samford and her attorney, Colin Walsh, are filing a lawsuit against the school and have already filed a charge of gender and pregnancy discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
“It’s against the law to fire someone for them taking a pregnancy leave, and you can’t preventatively fire someone,” Walsh said. “You can’t contract around anti-discrimination laws. Just being generally religious or upholding Christian values is not enough to evoke the ministerial exception.”
Samford said she even offered to get married if it meant she could keep her job. “I was in shock and devastated and that’s when I said, ‘If this is the problem, I’m willing, and so is my fiancé, to go ahead and get married. That wasn’t the issue. We were going to get married regardless.”
The school’s headmaster, Dr. Ron Taylor, said Samford was fired for violating her contract, which includes a clause about being a “Christian role model,” and that getting married wouldn’t work because her students already knew she was pregnant.
“It’s not that she’s pregnant,” Taylor told ABCNews.com. “The issue here is being an unmarried mother. Everything that we stand for says that we want our teachers, who we consider to be in the ministry, to model what a Christian man or woman should be.”
Samford, who is now looking for other work, said her former students and their parents have been largely supportive. “They know me, I’m not someone who goes out and parties and is crazy and gives bad advice, trying to lead them in a certain direction. It just kind of hurts my heart a little bit.”