Student says she was booted for pregnancy

Dec. 8, 2010 at 1:54 PM
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DETROIT, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A Michigan woman has sued Wayne State University and the Salvation Army, charging they discriminated against her because she was pregnant out of wedlock.

Tina Varlesi of Farmington Hills says in a federal lawsuit that the discrimination occurred while she was an intern at the Salvation Army in 2008, The Detroit News reports. She was in a master's degree program at the School of Social Work at Wayne State in Detroit and was required to pass the internship to get her degree.

In spite of having achieved a 3.96 grade-point average, Varlesi says she was told she had failed the internship in 53 of the 54 categories. She said she was also harassed by being compared to a "beached whale" and advised to wear baggy clothes and that officials told her to drop out of the master's program.

The lawsuit seeks her reinstatement in the degree program.

"Wayne violated the law by allowing her pregnancy to become a factor in how she was treated and graded," Deborah Gordon, her lawyer, said. "Our client was a very good student. She should've been allowed to complete the program, get her degree and move on with her life."

Gordon said Varlesi's applications to other social work programs have been rejected because Wayne State dismissed her.

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