Woman Files Lawsuit Against Christian School Alleging Pregnancy Discrimination


EmpBlog-3.6.2013-virginmarypregTeri James, a former employee of San Diego Christian College in El Cajon, recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the educational institution for allegedly firing her from her position as a financial aid specialist. Ms. James contends she was fired from her position due to the fact she was pregnant but not married. She alleges discrimination on account of gender, pregnancy and marital status.

Officials for the institution stated that when James was hired for the position, she signed a statement that she would abide by Christian rules, which meant she would avoid behavior such as lying, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, as well as premarital sex. As soon as school officials discovered the unmarried woman was pregnant, she was issued a notification telling her she had to leave her position with the college.

Counsel for Ms. James has argued that the treatment of Ms. James amounts to gender discrimination. Ms. James’ boyfriend, who is now her husband, purportedly was offered a job at the college following Ms. James’ termination at a time when human resources personnel allegedly knew about his relationship with James.

In a twist sure to surprise anyone who hasn’t read a newspaper or watched television in the last 20 years or so, Ms. James is represented by Gloria Allred, and they have held a press conference. Is this case news? Not really. It is unlikely to make new law or change the legal landscape. But the dispute does serve as a reminder that, once established, policies should generally be applied to employees equally, regardless of gender or any other protected characteristic. This is true for private employers as well as for religious institutions that are permitted to discriminate on the basis of their religion.

This blog is presented under protest by the law firm of Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP.  It is essentially the random thoughts and opinions of someone who lives in the trenches of the war that often is employment law–he/she may well be a little shell-shocked.  So if you are thinking “woohoo, I just landed some free legal advice that will fix all my problems!”, think again.  This is commentary people, a sketchy overview of some current legal issue with a dose of humor, but commentary nonetheless; as if Dennis Miller were a lawyer…and still mildly amusing.  No legal advice here; you would have to pay real US currency for that (unless you are my mom, and even then there are limits).  But feel free to contact us with your questions and comments—who knows, we might even answer you.  And if you want to spread this stuff around, feel free to do so, but please keep it in its present form (‘cause you can’t mess with this kind of poetry).  Big news: Copyright 2013.  All rights reserved; yep, all of them.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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