Monday, June 14, 2010

The Case of the Teacher Guilty of Sin

Hypothetical is based on a real case:

Christian woman starts teaching 4th grade in a Christian school in early 2008.

She becomes engaged during the school year.

In January, 2009, she commits the sin of engaging in premarital sex with her future husband, and conceives a child by him.

They marry, as planned, in February, 2009.

In April, 2009, she goes to her principal, a woman, and announces her pregnancy, and requests 6 weeks unpaid maternity leave in the Fall.

During this discussion, the principal is told the probable due date, counts back, and says something like, "Wait -- did you conceive this child before marriage?"

"Yes," the teacher answers.

"You're fired, for immoral conduct," says the principal.

Then, the school notifies other teachers and parents of students that the fourth grade teacher was fired for engaging in the important sin of premarital sex.

The teacher sues the Christian school.

You are on the jury. Would find the school liable? If so, how much would you award as damages?


  1. My reaction is, as usual mixed.
    Is it in the contract? Is it spelled out clearly what acts are immoral, or were they using the good ole 'you know what i mean by immoral' definition, where its not spelled out.
    Is it reinforced anually

    If its in the contract and spelled out, then I don't give the teach anything.

    IF its in the contract but not spelled out (The 'you know what I mean' case), then the teach gets 50 to 100K. The teacher knows generally that the current situation she got herself into would trigger such events. It probably wasn't on the top of her list of things to actively think about. But I'm sure there was a moment of 'oh my gosh, oh yeah, oh no!' kind of reaction as she realized she just got caught speeding in the local speed trap. Who pay's attention to those speed limit signs and moral clauses in contracts . . . The 50-100K is to wake up the school(s) to tell them to make this more clear, reinforce anually . . .

    If its not in the contract at all but an 'understanding' either verbal or unstated,
    then shame on the school principle for not contractually covering the bases. 300K
    That'll teach them a lesson in contractual employment real fast.

    This teacher got caught because the state of things were quite obvious. What does the school do to enforce its 'morality' clause in the contract with the other teachers. And is it clear where the line is drawn? Vice such as smoking, dringking, heavy problemed drinking, drug use, heavy drug use, overeating . . . Is this checked for? Its easy to do so.

    on top of the above, the teacher should get 50K for this part of the deal

    "Then, the school notifies other teachers and parents of students that the fourth grade teacher was fired for engaging in the important sin of premarital sex."

    This was uncalled for. Perhaps the intent wasn't for public humiliation reasons, to teach all a lesson (or was it).


    Now the other 'human' side of the coin. This has nothing to do directly with 'how would I find things in court'.

    I am not liberal at all in terms of sex, premarital sex . . .

    Wait till marriage !!!!

    BUT, there is something odd about this situation that 1) this SINFUL act is bringing about life. 2)Teacher is seeing it through WITH RESPONSIBLE FATHER AS HUSBAND.

    The man and woman got impatient and gave a little sampling (hey, there wasn't even any birth control. Give them credit for that. I think the entire staff should be 'drug' tested for birth control hormones in their system, or doesn't the school proactivley check on their staff to see if they hold true to that morality clause in contract. Principal and if there exists one. If there is a school board, they are probably not under contract as the teachers are, so, they should be offered the same testing standards to show the other teachers, principal and school children what upstanding good christain soldiers they are, and how 'just' it was in terminating that teacher.

    I could go on, but, time limits . . .

  2. Hi, Tom.

    Since the school is making use of the law and of the courts administering the law, as a party in a lawsuit claiming to be in the right, the first thing I would do if I were the judge in the case is order Plaintiff's counsel to investigate the behavior of all administrators, past and present, to determine if they were sin-free -- especially sex-sin-free -- while employed by the school. Otherwise, they are implicitly asking the court to subsidize with the force of law the unfairly-administered implied contract proivisions.

    Anyone found guilty of sin while employed must be fired.

    I.e., the Plaintiff is entitled to go on a witch hunt if the school's argument is, "Court, back-up us and our witch hunt with the force of law." Basic rule of law: What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

    In any case where it appears more probable than not that an administrator has committed sin, the administrator must be fired immediately.

    Otherwise, the school district must pay damages for slander.

    Next, while the basic rule with respect to employment contracts is that there is a presumption that they are "at will" -- either side may terminate the employment for any reason, good or bad -- in my view there is an implicit warranty that a party to an employment contract will refrain from exercising judgment in a perverse fashion in connection with that issue.

    In my view, the judgment exercized by the school administrators in this case was perverse, and so I would award damages for breach of employment contract. My measure of damages would be the average length of employment of school employees, times salary, divided in two to account for the fact that she is getting money for no work, liened-upon by an unemployment compensation lien, with attoreney's fees and costs added-in.