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Suit claims teacher was fired because of pregnancy

Union Leader Correspondent

August 03. 2017 10:07PM

DERRY — A former special education teacher at Grinnell Elementary School is suing the Derry Cooperative School District, claiming she was fired because she was pregnant.

Sarah McLean of Dover filed a four-count civil lawsuit this week in Rockingham County Superior Court alleging pregnancy discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and violation of the Family Medical Leave Act.

The suit names the school district and School Administrative Unit 10 as defendants.

According to the suit, McLean was hired on April 13, 2015, for the $51,595 per-year position and let go at the end of the school year on June 30, 2016, due to the pregnancy “and/or the perceived inconvenience of her being pregnant and needing maternity leave.”

The school district has not yet responded to the suit. Interim Superintendent Mary Ann Connors-Krikorian and school board Chairman Dan McKenna did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment on the case.

McLean claims that during her one year at the district she received “generally positive performance reviews” and never faced disciplinary action.

McLean, who is represented by Manchester attorney Sean List, learned that she was pregnant during the early winter and informed principal Mary Hill of her pregnancy on Jan. 4, 2016, the suit said.

She also disclosed the pregnancy to some colleagues, the suit said, including one who inquired about when she would be getting married.

The questions about marriage made McLean “uncomfortable” because the colleague “seemed to disapprove of Ms. McLean’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy,” the suit said.

McLean claims that between December 2015 and February 2016 she took a half-day of sick time for an “urgent OB/GYN issue” and left an hour early on two occasions for medical appointments related to the pregnancy. The suit said she had enough sick and vacation time to cover the absences.

The second time she asked to leave early for an appointment, McLean claims that the assistant principal expressed concern that if the requests became regular “the students would miss out on instruction.”

During a regular review meeting in March 2016, the suit said McLean told Hill that she would be taking her 12-week maternity leave after her baby was born on the expected due date of July 11, 2016.

But two weeks later, the suit alleges, McLean was called into a meeting and told that her contract wouldn’t be renewed.

The suit claims McLean was never told why she wouldn’t be getting a contract for the next school year despite her inquiries. She was replaced by an employee who wasn’t pregnant, the suit said.

McLean struggled with emotional distress and medical issues for the remainder of the school year, which required her to take a period of medical leave, the suit said.

“Ms. McLean was particularly distressed by the fact that her insurance was set to expire on July 1, 2016, which was 10 days prior to her pregnancy due date. Her excitement to have her first child was overshadowed by anxiety, sadness, depression and severe emotional distress,” the suit said.

McLean is seeking a jury trial, but her suit doesn’t specify a dollar amount.

Courts Derry

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