Posted Tuesday, March 5, 2013, at 10:54 AM
Photo by Megan Gaynes/Getty Images
Sadly, it's fairly common to see stories about Christian schools firing pregnant women because they weren't married when they got that way, a choice that I like to characterize as incentivizing abortion as a way for women to keep their jobs. But this latest story about Teri James suing her former employer San Diego Christian College for allegedly firing her upon discovering her pregnancy has a little extra special sauce added to it. No, not because Gloria Allred is the lawyer, meaning that everyone gets to enjoy a weepy press conference about it. It's because of who the school allegedly decided to offer the woman's job to after firing her: "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."
If true, this detail offers a lot more than just an opportunity to gape at the naked sexism on display. It also creates major problems for the school's defense. The way that Christian organizations try to get around the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which bars firing women for pregnancy, is to claim they're not firing them for the pregnancy, but for the fornicating. San Diego Christian College went another step by making employees sign a pledge requiring employees to abstain from "abusive anger, malice, jealousy, lust, sexually immoral behavior including premarital sex, adultery, pornography and homosexuality, evil desires and prejudice based on race, sex or socioeconomic status." Also, drinking, which means that Jesus would not be able to teach at this college established in his name.
As far as I can tell, there's no "women only" asterisk by the pledge, meaning that by offering the job to James's now-husband—llike 95 percent of Americans,a known fornicator himself—they are in violation of anti-discrimination laws.
But really, it shouldn't be too hard to prove that James was singled out for violating a pledge that everyone else is violating. Even if everyone at San Diego Christian College refrains from premarital sex and pornography, there's no chance that they successfully avoid malice, jealousy, and lust. Most people can't get through their morning commute, replete with billboards of sexy people doing expensive things and other drivers cutting you off in traffic, without experiencing all three of those emotions. In fact, I'll bet that a number of administrators had flickers of malice when they learned about the lawsuit. Unless they're prepared to fire themselves over it, I suspect Allred can make the case that they're not applying the rules consistently here.