KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A metro woman says she was fired from her job at St. Therese Catholic School in the Northland because she was pregnant and unmarried.
In a lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Michelle Bolen alleges she was terminated from her position in July 2015 and subjected to harassment and humiliation from school officials.
The diocese disputes these claims and insists Bolen’s contract wasn’t renewed because of performance issues that had nothing to do with her pregnancy.
Bolen worked at St. Therese from 2000 to 2015.
The lawsuit will go to trial next Monday in Kansas City.
In papers filed in relation to her lawsuit, Bolen claims school officials told her she made the right decision in “keeping the baby” but had violated the terms of her contract by being pregnant while not married.
Further, Bolen’s lawsuit alleges a priest associated with the school told her she “could not ‘return to sender’ but that had she done so (meaning, had she gotten an abortion), they would not have been there that day having the discussion about her pregnancy and its repercussions."
In a statement responding to Bolen’s lawsuit, the diocese vigorously disputes that claim, calling it "outrageous."
The statement from the diocese goes on to say, “The very notion that something like this would happen is patently absurd,” arguing anyone associated with the school “would never encourage a woman to have an abortion in order to keep her job."
The diocese also argues that Bolen misrepresented the extent of her tardiness, refused to sign a performance improvement plan and was insubordinate with the school’s principal.
A prominent message on the homepage of the website for St. Therese reads: “It is not the policy nor the practice of St. Therese Parish or School to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy. Personnel matters are held as confidential.”
Bolen’s lawsuit calls for compensatory and punitive damages.