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Time to Double Down Against the Double Standard

Ann Wittenauer

A lawsuit by a former employee of a Christian college in California reminds us of the continued need for laws protecting women from sex discrimination. A Christian college in San Diego terminated Teri James upon its discovery of her pregnancy. James, who is unmarried, had signed a pledge requiring employees to abstain from extra-marital sex. James claims, however, that after she lost her job, the school offered a position to her now-husband, even though it was aware that he also had engaged in extra-marital sex.

A court in Cincinnati, Ohio recently considered a similar case involving a termination for an extra-marital pregnancy resulting from artificial insemination, Dias v. Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In that case, when Dias, the computer technology coordinator at two of the Archdiocese’s schools told her principal that she was pregnant, the principal told Dias that she would probably lose her job because she was pregnant and unmarried.

Judge Arthur Spiegel noted that a school’s policy against its teachers engaging in sex outside of marriage might be “valid and non-pretextual [i.e., not a cover up for discrimination]” if it applied equally to men and women. Judge Spiegel recently decided that a jury should be allowed to determine whether the Archdiocese had applied its policies in a gender-neutral manner. Teri James should have the same opportunity to present her case to a jury in California.

To read more about James’ case, click here.

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