San Diego Christian College Fires Worker For Having Pre-Marital Sex

A California woman claims that her former employment, a Christian college in San Diego, fired her because she had engaged in pre-marital sex and gotten pregnant. Then, in an even greater twist of events, the same school had allegedly offered the pregnant woman’s then-fiancé and now-husband, and the father of her child, the woman’s job despite the fact that he also presumably had pre-marital sex. Not only are this school’s actions sexist and discriminatory, but also serve as an incentive for women, who, in these times of economic hardship are desperate to keep their jobs, to get abortions, something I’m sure the said Christian college would abhor even more than pregnancies out of wedlock.

According to Teri James, 29, her termination letter stated that, “Teri engaged in activity outside the scope of the Handbook and Community Covenant that does not build up the college’s mission.”

To explain their college mission, the San Diego Christian College has all employees sign a “community covenant” prior to employment; a two-page contracts that asks all employees and students to abstain from drugs, alcohol, tobacco and immoral behavior — an abstract notion in itself — that includes premarital sex, lust, jealousy, homosexuality and, to top it off, all “evil desires.”

James does admit to signing said contract, though she adds, "We all had to sign it … I needed a job in this economy and so I never thought that anything would happen — I just needed a job.”

“I feel like what San Diego Christian College did to me was hurtful and un-Christ like,” she said in a later interview. “I was unmarried, pregnant and they took away my livelihood.”

James’ attorney, Gloria Allred, holds that the college’s actions are a giant step backwards for women in general and that the institution discriminated against James heavily based on her gender, pregnancy and marital status. She also added that the school’s actions showed that the rules were only to be upheld for women, and not men because "How would they know a man's having premarital sex? The way they know a woman's having premarital sex is if she's married, and she's pregnant, and she's showing."

For their part, however, the Christian College may have had the right to fire the pregnant woman despite California and federal law that prohibits firing someone for being pregnant or discriminating based on gender due to religious exceptions. Religious organizations have the right to choose leaders and base rules off of religious values and allow for “ministerial exception” which prohibits minsters from suing their employers based on discrimination.

However, considering that James worked as a financial aid specialist at the school and did not hold any ministerial duties, it will be hard for the ministerial exception to apply in this case.

Regardless of what the court holds or where this case leads to, the fact of the matter is that in firing Teri and offering her fiancé the job despite the fact that both of them had to have held a role in Teri’s pregnancy, is blatantly sexist and discriminatory. Moreover, for many women around this nation who are hard-pressed to find jobs and are desperate in keeping any employment they find in this current job-market, actions such as the Christian College’s could serve as an incentive to have abortions in order to keep their jobs.

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Areej Elahi-Siddiqui

A Pakistani-American undergraduate student at the Seton Hall's School of Diplomacy and International Relations. She enjoys watching inordinate amounts of television, reading far too many books and drinking lots and lots of coffee.

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