Sorry, We Thought You Were A Witch

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 6, 2007 — 8 Comments

The Repository in Canton, Ohio reports on a teacher who is suing The Hampton Bays school district in Long Island, N.Y for firing her because they believed she was a Witch. Lauren Berrios, who is Jewish, claims that rumors of witchcraft started circulating when she didn’t attend Christian services that she was invited to.

“In 2001, Lauren Berrios filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Central Islip saying she was fired because co-workers wrongly believed she was a witch. Berrios is Jewish and said the witchcraft rumors surfaced because she turned down invitations to attend Christian services. The accusations intensified after a fifth-grade reading lesson on the Massachusetts Bay Colony, when Berrios mentioned the Salem witch trials in a historical context, said her lawyer, John Ray.”

The school claims that the firing was due to poor performance, but this doesn’t seem to add up with reports on Berrios’s performance at her new job in Atlanta where she was voted teacher of the month. Berrios’s attorney also claims to have some fairly concrete evidence proving that the school thought she was a Witch.

“Ray said he has strong evidence to prove Berrios was fired amid religious hysteria. He said he plans to call former principal Andrew Albano as a witness. Ray said he will read testimony into the court record of Albano saying during a deposition that he believed Berrios practiced witchcraft. Albano could not be reached Monday.”

If Berrios wins this case (the suit is for 2 million dollars), it could act as a strong deterrent against future arbitrary firings due to a perceived adherence to a modern Pagan faith. Her experience mirrors many modern Pagans who are in the “broom closet” due to working in places with a predominately Christian staff (or clientele), and who fear the effects of the “rumor mill” on their livelihood. Opening statements for the case are scheduled for Wednesday.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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