BELLPORT, NY (News 12 Long Island/CNN) – A New York state middle school teacher has filed a $3 million lawsuit against her former employer.
She says she was improperly let go because of a topless photo she’d sent privately to someone she was dating.
A student somehow got hold of the photo and began circulating it, but she says that’s not her fault and that she shouldn’t be punished for it.
"That picture was never posted. How it got out is the million-dollar question," said Lauren Miranda, the 25-year-old former Bellport Middle School math teacher.
Actually, it’s a $3 million question. Miranda is now suing the South Country School District for that amount in a gender discrimination lawsuit because she was fired over the selfie last week.
"My career has been ruined. My reputation has been tarnished. I have been stigmatized," she said.
Miranda said she texted the photo to her partner at the time, another teacher in the district, more than two years ago.
She has no idea how a student was able to get a copy and share it.
Her attorney John Ray called what the school did discrimination.
"Any time a man has ever exposed his chest, no one has ever commented or had any problem with it whatsoever,” Ray said. “But when a woman displays her chest, as happened here, she gets fired from her job."
In a statement, South Country’s superintendent said, “The district does not comment on active litigation.”
But some middle school parents are talking.
"It’s a sad state of affairs,” Karen Ann Hawkins said. “It's a shame, really, for the school, for the teacher, for everyone involved."
Miranda said she loved working at Bellport Middle School and through her attorney said she would be willing to drop the lawsuit if she were reinstated. However, she said as of now the superintendent has told her that’s not happening.
“He said, ‘How can I put you in front of a classroom where boys would be able to pull out their phone and look at this image of you?'” she said.
While the lawsuit progresses, Miranda says she is actively looking for other teaching jobs in other districts.