Teacher Sues Christian School After Contract Not Renewed Following Out of Wedlock Pregnancy

Photo Credit: Concord Christian School

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee teacher has sued the Christian school at which she was formerly employed on allegations that her contract was not renewed because she became pregnant out of wedlock.

Tabatha Hutson has been a teacher at the Baptist-based Concord Christian School in Knoxville since 2011. Last year, while unmarried, she became pregnant with her second child. The child’s father is a volunteer Sunday School teacher at Concord and was not asked to resign, according to reports.

Hutson alleges that in May 2017, while meeting with school Principal Leigh Ledet, she was informed that her year-to-year teaching contract would not be renewed, but that she could “‘return to the school once things settled down,’ i.e., once Ms. Hutson married her partner and gave birth to her child.”

“Ledet assured Ms. Hutson that work performance played no part in Concord’s decision to terminate Ms. Hutson’s employment; it was solely due to her pregnancy,” the complaint states.

The school denies some of the allegations, including claims that Ledet told her that she could go “straighten racks at SteinMart” until that time. It also says that Hutson’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy was not specifically stated as the reason for which her contract would not be renewed.

However, legal filings acknowledge that Hutson was asked not to discuss her pregnancy with students or parents, according to local television station WBIR.

Hutson, a Roman Catholic, contends that she would not have been punished if she was a male and her sexual activity wasn’t evident. She is suing on allegations of sex discrimination and pregnancy discrimination, and is seeking $1.5 million in punitive damages and $500,000 in compensatory damages.

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The school is requesting a dismissal of the suit, and points to the U.S. Supreme Court’s “ministerial exception” to discrimination laws. The court had ruled in the 2012 case of Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. E.E.O.C. that religious institutions have a right to hire and fire in accordance with the tenants of their faith.

However, Hutson’s attorney argues that case does not apply as the teacher does not hold a ministerial position in the Baptist denomination, but is simply a teacher.

“Concord told Ms. Hutson she was selected for the job of kindergarten teacher at CCS because of her familiarity with the curriculum CCS already had in place,” the lawsuit argues.

The school’s mission and vision page states that “Concord Christian School endeavors to give a completely God-centered orientation of life to each student. It strives to help produce the mind of Christ in its students and to establish a well-grounded, biblical worldview.”

As previously reported, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-6 says that those who profess the name of Christ are to be different from the unregenerate, and to keep their bodies in sanctification and in honor.

“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication, that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor, not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God,” it reads.

Ephesians 5 also warns, “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient, but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no [fornicator], nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

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  • Reason2012

    You don’t join a Christian school then try to promote open rebellion against Christ/God. Although if the male teacher is also involved he also needs to be removed.

    • LynnRH

      I totally agree.

      • Susan Perelka

        It is always hard to draw conclusions just from news articles because we don’t personally know the people involved or have an intimate knowledge of their characters. Add in the fact, that all of us can stumble at times, even “big time” like King David. However, how a person responds when their sin is brought to their attention is important to consider. Do they grieve over it and turn from it, or do they make excuses. In this case there is overwhelming evidence of their sin, a baby outside of a marriage covenant. But it takes two to make that child and both should be held accountable, then council them on what to do that is correct in Gods eyes; REPENT, then get married and treat each other as God instructs in that marriage, and raise that child in a godly manner, and not repeat it again outside of wedlock. Return evil with good. Go and sin no more. Walk in the commandment of LOVE, and think of others above yourself, be His disciple by denying yourself, picking up your cross, and following Jesus. God will bless us when we obey His instructions in His Word. Good can come from this, only IF they will submit to God. I’m not sure they are doing that, it seems by the article that she is more concerned with herself at this moment, but I could be wrong about that. Like I said at the beginning, it’s hard to discern by just a few written words on a page. We also have to consider a not so pleasant topic, they may not even be truly “born again”. They may be christian in name only. They may just have a religion and not a relationship with Christ. We have to consider all things in cases like these and respond to each according to Gods Word. Abba Father, Your sheep know You and a strangers voice they will not hear. Your people have Your Holy Spirit, Who teaches us and councils us in all things. We can’t see into a persons heart, but You can Lord. Examine the hearts of all those involved in this case. Discipline those who are Yours who are in error. For those who are not truly Yours, please wake them up to this truth and show them how to become “born again” to become Your children. Father, help them to understand Your commandment of loving one another. Show them how good can come from this, if they are willing to submit to You and follow Your instructions. We hope that they will listen to You and be blessed. Watch over this child, an innocent in this situation. Thank You Lord for intervening in this situation. We love You and we bless Your Holy Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. AMEN

        • Chet

          1000 thumbs up!

  • Lydia Church

    Yes there are problems in this case, one is that they need to remove the father of the child as well or it is a hypocritical double standard. The laws about fornication being a sin apply to men just as much as women. He can marry her and make an ‘honest man out of himself.’ I am so sick and tired of women always getting the blame but not the men. Just because he doesn’t ‘show’ during her pregnancy? And lets get down to the nitty gritty here; the church has gotten so carnal and sinful that they are just like the world. If you are a single Christian female and live by Christian standards like no sex before marriage, these carnal ‘Christian’ men will just move downstream where they will find a ‘cheap lay.’ These honorable women will then remain single indefinitely, and that includes problems like it mentions in 1 Cor. 7. If women get pregnant, the men escape unawares while the woman bears the brunt of it and the consequences and even shame. None of these men are real Christians and are willing to wait until marriage. So if she waits, she stays a spinster, if she doesn’t wait, she risks getting pregnant and becoming a single mom. Another problem is abortion. This is the kind of thing that pressures women into that, because if they kill the unborn baby, no one will ever find out and in this case she could keep her job. No one would know about the fornication, or the murder!

    • james blue

      I was thinking the same thing about the man getting away with it while the woman was punished. I also did entertain if such policies would encourage abortion.

      The thing going troubling me most about this is this idea of pro life Christians literally turning their backs on an expectant mother and casting her out. I’m not questioning the sin argument, but aren’t we supposed to hate the sin and love the sinner? Christians stand outside abortion clinics to convince women to carry to term, we have crisis pregnancy centers, yet here we have a most definitely Christian outfit saying “go away we will not support you with employment”.

      • Susan Perelka

        Here is something to consider, how do you know this is a christian outfit? Jesus did warn that not everyone claiming to be His, truly is His. He said to know His people by their fruit (deeds and actions). That His sheep know His voice and a strangers voice they will not hear. Also, we don’t have all the information in a short news article. We don’t personally know these peoples characters. We can’t see into their hearts, only God can. If they are His and in sin, He will discipline them and instruct them on what they should do, like He did King David. If they are hypocrites (play actors) then they will “do what is right in their own eyes” and reap what they sow (Like King Saul). I always say, time will tell. Gods people will grieve when God confronts them in their sin and will repent and turn away from it. The hypocrites just make excuses for their sin. A study of the characters of King David and King Saul show that contrast. We need to be careful with news articles, we don’t have all the information and can come to wrong conclusions, we could be that person in that article. We should pray for the people involved, that God would intervene.

        • Amos Moses – He>i

          This is her second child …. and this child is out of wedlock ….. i guess we do not know the status of the first child ….. but there could be a pattern here ….. you make some very good points ……….

          • Susan Perelka

            I know, its a hard call. Is this someone who “practices” lawlessness, or is this a true believer who is stumbling? How to approach the situation would depend on the answer to that question, they are both handled differently. Since we don’t have all the facts, the safe thing to do is pray for them. God knows what is going on.

        • james blue

          “how do you know this is a christian outfit?”

          Well it’s a Christian school go to their website (sorry this site doesn’t allow links)
          concordchristianschool (dot) org

          • Susan Perelka

            James, even Jesus said not every one CLAIMING to be His truly is. He told us not to be deceived by them. He said He NEVER knew them, they were hypocrites, and that word in the Greek means play actors. The Pharisees (religious leaders) of His time claimed to be Gods, but Jesus pointed out to them that they were not (a few repented, most didn’t). Many will say to Jesus that they are His, but He responds that He never knew them because they “practiced” lawlessness. They didn’t do what God said, but did “what was right in their own eyes.” Their fruit (actions and deeds) showed who they really were. You can read the scriptures yourself to see these truths.

          • james blue

            So you think this isn’t a Christian school?

    • cadcoke5

      In regards to removing the father, who volunteers as a Sunday-School teacher, there may be other factors that we are unaware of. Perhaps he is repentant, and she is not. It makes a difference in terms of how an organization responds.

      In my book, sex outside of marriage is serious enough to warrant removal for a period of time, at least a year, regardless of if the individual is repentant.

      In the case of this lady, she seems unrepentant, because she does not want to be removed from her role of spiritual leadership. We know very little about the father, except that he is currently volunteering for Sunday-school. He may have had other actions taken, such as being required to attend regular meetings with a spiritual mentor.

  • If they are going to fire her for out of wedlock pregnancy then they need to fire the sperm donor as well but if I was in charge there would be pastoral counseling offered and if they accepted it then in the spirit of forgiveness they would be reinstated..

  • Guest✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    She should be fired.

  • Church Politics

    A christian school with moral standards, amazing! I wonder if they can take a public stand on the institution of marriage and against planned parenthood and against public education–or does that belong to Caesar?

  • Chet

    Man, this is indeed a tough one. While the Christian school must have standards and principles IAW the Word of God, how is it the dad suffered no consequences… And the piece said second child. Was there at one time a marriage, or???

  • xinthose

    It is not right to sue the school. Perhaps fornication was in their policy for a fire-able offense.