Teri James, pregnant woman allegedly fired for premarital sex, sues christian school
Similiar cases at religious schools are common
11:37 AM, Mar 3, 2013
9:31 PM, Mar 3, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -
A former employee at a Christian college has enlisted the help of high-profile attorney Gloria Allred to sue a California school that allegedly fired her for engaging in premarital sex. In a bizarre twist, the school reportedly went on to offer the pregnant woman's job to her then fiance.
Teri James, 29, told the news outlet that she did sign a two-page contract with San Diego Christian College that included a provision agreeing not to engage in "sexually immoral behavior including premarital sex."
"I needed a job in this economy and so I never thought that anything would happen," James explained to "Today."
But James said she was humiliated after being pulled into her supervisor's office last fall, where she was asked if she was pregnant and then was let go. After James lost her job, she claims the school offered a position to her now-husband, even though they were aware he'd had sex before getting married, too.
During a news conference featured in a KTLA report, James said she felt she was treated unfairly.
"I was unmarried, pregnant and they took away my livelihood," James said.
Legal clashes involving teachers at religious schools who've been fired for pre-martial sex are not entirely uncommon.
Last year in Florida, an appeals court ruled that a teacher's case would be moving to trial after the judges decided the school might have fire the woman not because she admitted to getting pregnant while unmarried, but because they didn't want to find a replacement for her during while she'd be on maternity leave, according to Reuters.
And as ABC News previously reported, an unmarried teacher in Texas sought a legal counsel after she was fired over her pregnancy. The women offered to expedite her wedding in order to keep her job, but school officials still said "no," claiming the pregnancy violated their definition of being a Christian role model.
The legal waters can get murky, though, when contracts between teachers and religious schools are involved.
After a Catholic school in Ohio fired Christa Dias for becoming pregnant through artificial insemination, the school argued that she had violated Catholic doctrine and failed to fulfill her contract.
“This is not the classic pregnancy discrimination case in which pretexts must be evaluated and discriminatory intent must be divined,” the school’s attorneys wrote, according to Cincinnati.com.
Dias sued the archdiocese and according to Courthousenews, the trial is set to begin on March 19.
Some teachers, on the other hand, have decided to leave religiously affiliated schools rather than agree to lifestyle contracts.
As Christianity Today reported in 2012, a third of the faculty at the Southern Baptist-based Shorter University decided to quit rather than sign a "lifestyle statement," which condemned drinking in public, sex before marriage and homosexuality.