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October 14, 2009

Md. teacher says she was persecuted, fired because of pregnancy

The (Salisbury, Md.) Daily Times

OCEAN CITY, Md. — A former Worcester County teacher filed a federal discrimination complaint against the school board, alleging she was persecuted and ultimately fired because she got pregnant against the principal’s wishes.

Lyndsay Greenan, 28, also claims in her Equal Opportunity Employment Commission complaint that Ocean City Elementary Principal Irene Kordick’s alleged hostilities were “exacerbated … by the fact that the father of my child is an African-American.” She also said Kordick asked Greenan to remove family photos from her desk “because there were a number of black faces depicted.”

“My observations until the point I told them I was pregnant were very good,” said Greenan, who is white, on Monday. “I was not married and pregnant with a biracial child. I do not think Ms. Kordick approved of that for her school. It’s clear, if you look at the timeline, that everything drastically changed for me after I told them I was pregnant.”

Filed Sept. 29 in Baltimore, the five-page complaint outlines Greenan’s hiring in 2007, her pregnancy and the birth of a daughter in 2008, through her termination in April 2009. Greenan had been a third-year teacher at a Cambridge elementary school before moving to Ocean City.

School board spokeswoman Barbara Witherow declined to comment for this story, saying it was against policy to speak about personnel matters. A message left on Kordick’s home telephone late Tuesday was not returned.

The complaint said Greenan rented a house owned by Kordick, located down the street from the school on Center Drive in West Ocean City. The complaint details an account of how Kordick’s secretary showed her the property, telling her at the time that “Ms. Kordick did not feel it would be a good idea for me to get pregnant during my first year of teaching.” Greenan called it an “unwarranted disturbance in my personal life.”

After telling Kordick of her pregnancy, Greenan said her relationship with Kordick deteriorated. She said evaluations made by Kordick came back as unsatisfactory, despite her students doing well on state tests, and that Kordick made “sarcastic and demeaning” comments to her on a regular basis. Greenan said the alleged mistreatment continued after she came back from maternity leave in late 2008.

Greenan took her complaints to Superintendent Jon Andes and asked him to transfer her to any other school in the county, “just so I could be fairly observed,” she said.

Greenan said following this, Kordick allegedly called a meeting with her staff, falsely warning them that Greenan was suing the school for millions and that she was lying and making “horrible” allegations against Kordick. Staffers were warned not to talk to anyone about it, Greenan said.

In April, Greenan did not have her employment contract renewed. She unsuccessfully appealed that decision to the county’s Board of Education.

Greenan’s Salisbury-based attorney, Robin Cockey, said she is entitled to be offered reinstatement; back pay; compensation for emotional distress and harm to her reputation; and attorney’s fees. Cockey said if the EEOC does not resolve the matter within 180 days, then Greenan is entitled to proceed with a lawsuit.

“Things turned sour only upon her disclosure of her pregnancy, and to be penalized for something as wonderful as bringing a new life into the world is pretty rotten,” Cockey said. “She has struggled in the wake of losing her job because of things that have nothing to do, in her view, with her job performance. She has been punished improperly for things that have nothing to do with the workplace or job performance and are protected by federal law.”