Pregnancy Discrimination and Hypocrisy

Surprised? No. Infuriated anyway? You bet.

A California woman was fired after her supervisor at a San Diego Christian college asked her if she was pregnant. The sin, so to speak, was not the pregnancy itself but the fact that Teri James, 29, was not married when she conceived [a violation of the school’s ‘Community Covenant”]. . . But the real kicker here is that the very same school that fired James once she became visibly preggers, offered a job to her then fiance (the two are now married and he said no) who was, presumably, engaging in the very same premarital sex as James.

More at Feministing.

4 thoughts on “Pregnancy Discrimination and Hypocrisy

  1. Lots of issues raised in this case. The double standard is appalling.

    But if you stripped away the fact that the institution offered a job to her boyfriend (!!!), the rest of it sounds like they acted within the law. As far as I know, many religious colleges and universities force employees to sign codes of conduct. Many require statements of faith. Requiring these statements seem to be within the First Amendment rights of the colleges and universities. So if the statement requires one to abstain from sexual intercourse, then pregnancy seems to be a clear indicator that a person violated the letter of the statement. From my layman’s perspective, it doesn’t seem to run afoul of California’s anti-discrimination legislation.

    The other issue this one raises to me is this one: what responsibility, if any, do the people who sign such outlandish statements of conduct and statements of faith bear for the predicaments into which it gets them? Having been on the academic job market for quite awhile, I’ve seen quite a few advertisements from colleges that openly discriminate against people with my religious beliefs and sexual orientation, or to colleges that openly discriminate against people other than myself. Guess what? I don’t apply to work at those institutions. If I had to choose between unemployment or switching industries, and working at those institutions, I’d choose the former.

    So to some extent I’m not all that sympathetic to Teri James. She knew they discriminated, and she signed whatever contract/statement of faith that they required. Even Bible-believing, conservative, heterosexual, white, monogamous, cis-gender, right-thinkin’ Christians should refuse to sign those statements. And I hold them responsible for signing those statements when I encounter them.

  2. I would have thought the pregnancy discrimination act of ’78 would cover even religiously-affiliated educational institutions (just as Bob Jones University was not shielded by religious freedom from the revocation of tax-exempt status on account of racial discrimination).

  3. You might be right about that. I’m in way over my head on issues related to the law. I guess my initial reaction is that the school could say this: we didn’t fire her for being pregnant. We fired her for having premarital sex. The pregnancy was the (pretty good) evidence. [Of course, offering the job to the boyfriend greatly complicates this line.]

  4. True– but I do think it’s outside their legal rights to ask her if she is pregnant even in order to determine whether or not she had pre-marital sex.

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