NJ female teachers challenge district policy

School board found to likely violate discrimination law

NJ says policy penalizes those on family leave

A school district in Burlington County has likely been treating its female educators unfairly, state Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced on Wednesday.

Platkin said that the Division on Civil Rights found probable cause in three cases involving allegations that the Cinnaminson Township Board of Education violated state discrimination law as well as the New Jersey Family Leave Act.

The cases all involve a board policy against allowing employees who are on leave to still coach or otherwise take part in extracurricular activities.

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Parent leave prevented coaching, women say (Canva)
Parent leave prevented coaching, women say (Canva)

All three cases involved women who were on family leave after being pregnant and welcoming a child, according to state officials.

In one case, an employee who served as head coach for two years was not allowed to return to coach the same sport because she was on parental leave during the season, DCR said.

The second case involved a woman who had coached the same sport for well over a decade who was prevented from returning to her coaching duties, nine months after giving birth.

In the third case, a female worker was forced to cut short her family leave so she could return to a coaching position — even though the Cinnaminson district had permitted her to coach during "several prior maternity leaves," state officials said.

Cinnaminson Schools (cinnaminson.com) (2)
Cinnaminson Schools (cinnaminson.com) (2)

DCR found that between 70 and 75% of the Cinnaminson school district staff were women — women in the district also accounted for 80% of leave taken by employees to care for or bond with a new child.

Despite having a strong majority of female staffers, the school district has awarded 72% of its extracurricular positions to men.

SEE ALSO: If you take family leave in NJ, your job is not guaranteed

DCR said it found enough evidence to conclude that the policy has an uneven impact based on gender and pregnancy in violation of discrimination law.

Officials with the division said evidence also supports that the district’s policy violates the Family Leave Act, which protects an employee’s right to part-time work while on family leave and to continue part-time employment that began before such leave.

“New Jersey’s anti-discrimination laws do not permit employers to follow the all-too-familiar view that a woman must choose between having a career and having a child,” Platkin said in a written release.

“These cases serve as a reminder that employment policies and practices cannot punish an employee for taking time off to bond with a new family member.”

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