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Butte Central Elementary School

Butte Central Elementary School

The Butte Central teacher fired for being pregnant has given birth to a boy.

Shaela Evenson delivered Brody Tobin Evenson on March 7 at St. James Healthcare in Butte. Brody weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and was 21 inches long.

This is the first child for Evenson and her partner, Marilyn Tobin, both of Butte.

Evenson taught sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade literature and physical education at the Catholic school for the past nine years. She was dismissed Jan. 10 after the Helena Diocese received an anonymous letter about her pregnancy.

Both Superintendent Pat Haggarty and Evenson’s Ohio-based lawyer, Brian Butler, say Evenson was not fired for being a lesbian.

“They told her she was fired for being pregnant and unmarried,” Butler said. “Nobody was hiding anything. (Shaela) never denied the fact that she’s in a relationship with Marilyn.”

Evenson has filed a discrimination charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will investigate the firing, Butler told The Montana Standard on Tuesday. He said Evenson is protected from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy by title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Evenson and Tobin, a former Montana Tech volleyball coach, did not return calls for this story. Evenson has previously referred questions to Butler.

The attorney won a similar case against an archdiocese in Ohio last year when he represented a woman who had become pregnant while unwed while working at a Catholic school. She was awarded $170,000 after the jury found the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati had discriminated against her by firing her once she became pregnant by artificial insemination while unmarried.

In that case, the jury was instructed that even if an employee signed an employment contract containing a morality clause, that does not exempt that person’s employment from the protections of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. The jury was told that an employee cannot waive his rights to be free from unlawful discrimination.

Butler said that case made clear that an employer, even if it is a religious institution, cannot require an employee to sign a contract giving up certain civil rights, which includes the right of a woman to bear children.

The district has said it fired Evenson for violating the terms of her contract, which required her to practice the tenets of the Catholic faith inside and outside the classroom. 

According to a birth announcement published in the March 14 Montana Standard, the baby's grandparents are Keith and Sandra Evenson, of Kalispell, and Jim and Sarah Tobin, of Casper, Wyo.

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