The term “out-of-wedlock pregnancy” sounds a little dated these days, doesn’t it? However, it’s unfortunately very relevant for a Massachusetts couple who were both fired from their teaching jobs for that very thing.
Sean Houlihan and Natalie Ferland were teachers at the Lawrence Catholic Academy, located in northeastern Massachusetts. They began dating last March, and after discovering the pregnancy in October, they got engaged. When they told their superiors right before Thanksgiving, despite the engagement, they were both promptly fired due to breach of contract.
The school released a statement citing their commitment to providing a Catholic faith-based education for their students. When teachers are hired, they sign a contract agreeing to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church. As premarital sex is considered a sin according to Catholic doctrine, the fact that the couple became pregnant is clear indication that they were not following the teachings and had breached their contract.
As unhappy as this situation makes me, I feel that their employer had the right to terminate them both. The contract was pretty clear and while a non-religious employer would usually not be able to fire a person for a pregnancy outside of marriage, this one is able to. I do wish they had considered the engagement, though, and awarded them some leniency because of that. While it’s really hard on them (they both lost their health insurance also), it’s also hard on the kids as well. My daughter gets really attached to her teachers, and earlier this year when her teacher left to go to another school and her class got reassigned, many of the children cried.
The couple doesn’t want their jobs back — I’m sure they realized that they had breached their contract — but they do want their terminations struck from their records so they will have better success finding new jobs.