A former Pennsylvania Catholic school teacher claims she was fired from her job last week after her employer found out she was pregnant and had no plans to marry her boyfriend.
Naiad Reich told ABC affiliate WNEP 16 that the principal of Coal Township’s Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School told her Friday that she was being let go for violating the school’s morality code.
“I feel like I’m a rewriting of ‘The Scarlet Letter’ at this point, just minus the affair,” the 31-year-old said about her termination, according to The Associated Press.
Reich had taught high school English and creative writing at the school, and also served as yearbook adviser, Penn Live reports. On Wednesday, she was still listed on the school’s website as a high school teacher.
The teacher is expecting a child with her boyfriend of four years next June, Penn Live reports.
Reich said when she told the school’s principal about the pregnancy, it was apparent that the principal was “not happy with the circumstances.”
“If there’s no eventual plan in the near future to get married, it was either that or I had to be let go,” Reich told WNEP 16.
Reich said the couple wants to get married on their own terms, but said she understood the school’s decision to abide by its morality code.
“This is their beliefs and their moral code and what they live by and I understand that,” Reich said. “Though I don’t agree with it, I understand.”
Our Lady of Lourdes Regional School falls under the purview of the Diocese of Harrisburg. In its official application form for school employees, the diocese states that employees must avoid engaging in conduct that “constitutes serious or public immorality, sacrilege, lewd conduct, public scandal or overt rejection of, or the holding up to doubt, public ridicule or question of the official teaching, doctrine or laws of the Catholic Church.”
The application states that violations of the school’s morality code could result in termination.
When reached for comment, the school told HuffPost that all questions need to be directed to the Diocese of Harrisburg, “since they are the ones who made this decision.”
The Diocese of Harrisburg said it could not comment on personnel matters, but added, “as outlined in our policies, every professional employee agrees to follow the teachings, doctrine, and laws of the Catholic Church as part of the hiring process.”
Teachers in other Catholic dioceses across the country have also been fired for violating the church’s morality code ― often for getting pregnant out of wedlock or for being gay and in a relationship.
Long-standing Catholic doctrine teaches that sex outside of a heterosexual marriage is sinful.
The Supreme Court has recognized the right of churches to claim a religious exemption to workplace bias lawsuits — as long as the employee is identified by the church as a “minister” who plays some role in advancing the organization’s religious mission.
The Diocese of Harrisburg has come under scrutiny in recent months for its alleged role in covering up decades of clerical sex abuse. In August, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro claimed in a landmark report that senior church leaders in six Pennsylvania dioceses, including in Harrisburg, knew that abuse was occurring but didn’t do enough to stop predatory priests. The Harrisburg diocese has published a list of over 70 priests and other church members who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse.
In response to the report, the Diocese of Harrisburg said it has learned from its past mistakes and has already implemented multiple safeguards to protect children. Its current leader, Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, has also asked for “forgiveness for the sinfulness of those who have committed these crimes.”