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Woman sues after being fired for premarital sex

Missouri residents who are interested in workplace discrimination issues may be intrigued by the recent case of a woman who allegedly was fired from her job at a Christian college after her employer learned of her out-of-wedlock pregnancy. She has hired prominent attorney Gloria Allred to sue the school. Last fall, the woman was called into her supervisor's office to respond to rumors that she was pregnant. When she confirmed the pregnancy, she says she was fired. She now claims she was wrongfully terminated.

The college says it fired the woman for violating the terms of a two-page contract she signed that prohibited immoral behavior including, among other things, premarital sex. While the woman acknowledges signing the agreement, she says the school applied its rules unfairly. After firing the woman, the school proceeded to offer a job to her then-fiancé, despite being aware that he also had premarital sex. The two have since married.

This is not the first case involving a religious school and an employee fired for not upholding the school's moral values. The legal issues get tricky when the employee has signed a contract agreeing to abide by certain standards of moral conduct. When asked to sign such so-called "lifestyle contracts," some employees choose to quit. In 2012, one-third of the faculty at a Southern Baptist-affiliated university opted to resign rather than sign an agreement that prohibited such things as public consumption of alcohol, premarital sex and homosexuality.

It is illegal under both Missouri and federal law to discriminate against an employee on the basis of pregnancy or gender. If an employee believes he or she has been wrongfully terminated on the basis of his or her protected class status, an experienced wrongful termination attorney may be able to help. The attorney can review the facts to determine if there is evidence of unlawful conduct on which to base a claim.

Source: Huffington Post, "Teri James, Pregnant Woman Allegedly Fired For Premarital Sex, Sues Christian School," Katherine Bindley, March 4, 2013

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