Ron Poliquin, DoverLawOffice.com,
Today’s question, “Is it discrimination for a female teacher to be terminated over a topless photo that was found by a student?” That is what plaintiff Lauren Miranda is claiming. Miranda was fired after a teenage student ended up with a topless selfie of this public-school math teacher, but Miranda did not send the photo to the student. She sent it to another male teacher in the district that she recently had a relationship.
Apparently, the photo was passed around and somehow wound up in the student’s hands. Miranda is suing the school district, superintendent, and other administrators on the basis of gender discrimination, seeking $3 million dollars and to be reinstated at the school.
What she and her legal counsel are arguing, in a sense, is that if the nipples in the photo had belonged to a male teacher, if it was a topless photo of a male teacher, no action would have been taken. In fact, Miranda noted that there are male teachers on Facebook that have topless photos that are easily accessible on social media platforms and never to her knowledge has that been reprimanded let alone fired.
To me, Miranda is focused on the nipples and topless photo. I would ask her some questions as far as to see if this is, in fact, gender discrimination. How has the school handled prior cases of pictures of teachers? How did the picture get into the hands of the student? Did the school do any kind of investigation? A question we have to ask is this topless photo sexual in nature? I think it would be a more clear-cut case if it was a pornographic picture of someone having sex, but here you are talking about simply a topless photo.
It is a very difficult case; I think there is a good argument to make that a topless photo in and of itself does not make you a bad role model. It is not sexual in nature. I also think it obviously helps that she did not pass out the photo, it was passed on by someone else.
If I were a betting man, I would bet that the court would defer to the school, but I would still represent Miranda because I think it is a worthwhile cause to proceed with. What is obvious here is in this day and age with everyone’s private lives not being so private and being on the internet, employers are going to have to make some big adjustments to make sure men and women are treated equally in the workplace. Especially when it comes to issues like this.