California Principal Files Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Claiming Demotion Due to Pregnancy

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A woman has filed a sex and gender discrimination lawsuit against a Southern California school district claiming that she was demoted after announcing her pregnancy.

Christine Castillo was just a few weeks into her new position and “dream job” as the principal of the La Cañada Elementary School when she announced that she was expecting a child.

Castillo Was Mistreated by La Cañada Unified School District Employees

The discrimination lawsuit filed in December of 2016 alleges that upon announcing her pregnancy in 2012, Castillo was treated unfairly and discriminated against by La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette and other employees because she was unmarried and pregnant.

According to the suit, Sinnette was the first to react negatively to Castillo’s pregnancy news and made comments to Castillo such as, “This is really going to upset your staff and parents,” “I made it clear what this job required,” and “I need a drink.” Sinnette also stated that Castillo should have said something about her pregnancy sooner. Castillo claims that when she divulged her pregnancy to Sinnette, the superintendent’s body language also reacted in a disappointed manner. Castillo told NBC4, “When the words came out of my mouth I could just see her body just freeze,” and “Her face just looked so disappointed.”

Castillo Alleges Ongoing Discrimination During the Years Following Her Pregnancy

For the three years that followed her pregnancy, Castillo claims that La Cañada Unified School District treated her unfairly and denied her pregnancy accommodations. The suit also alleges that school staff and the district subjected Castillo to negative performance reviews after not taking into consideration her maternity leave.

In 2015, Castillo filed an internal complaint against La Cañada Unified School District. The internal investigation showed that both Sinnette and the former HR superintendent, Patricia Hager, were concerned about Castillo’s pregnancy and the logistics surrounding it. The investigation also revealed that the school district was concerned about the community reacting negatively about Castillo’s pregnancy since she was not married.

La Cañada Unified School District Reassigned Castillo to a Teaching Position

In June 2016, the school district informed Castillo that she would be reassigned to a teaching position. The demotion prompted Castillo to leave the school that day. Castillo claims that the school district announced a new elementary school principal in the evening on that same day.

School District Claims No Wrongdoing

The La Cañada Unified School District said that Castillo is, “pursuing a legal strategy that has nothing to do with the facts,” and that her reassignment had “nothing to do with her maternity leave of four years ago.” The school district also claims that it adheres to a zero-tolerance policy of discrimination in the workplace and that it stands by superintendent Wendy Sinnette.

Attorneys are calling for La Cañada Unified School District to reinstate Castillo as the elementary school principal, or for Sinnette to resign.

Castillo claims that she was “excited about being pregnant and starting a family,” and simply wanted to share her joy with her employer, never thinking it would compromise her position at the school.

Article adapted from original, School District Demoted Principal Because She Was Pregnant, Unwed: Lawsuit via NBC Los Angeles

Employment Laws Prohibit Pregnancy and Gender Discrimination in California

Employees should never have to worry about workplace discrimination due to their sex, gender or pregnancy. Workers in California are protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and similar state laws of California. If you feel that you are facing pregnancy or gender discrimination at work, contact our passionate California employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz today for a free consultation.