Marry the father of your child, stop living with him or lose your job. These were the options given to Coty Richardson, the former instructor of exercise science at Northwest Christian University. In 2011, Richardson became pregnant with her third child; when Richardson informed her superiors, they went into a frenzy. In an email revealed during an investigation, a school official admitted that they were concerned that once Richardson started to show, students would notice she was pregnant but not married and would realize that Richardson had sex outside of marriage, a practice against the strict teachings of the Christian University.
Richardson brought a claim of pregnancy and marital status discrimination against the school. The University filed a summary judgement motion based entirely on its First Amendment rights to religious freedom. The motion focused on a “ministerial exception,” which prevents federal courts from intervening in disputes over members of the clergy and some other employees of religious institutions. This exception has been upheld by the Supreme Court as recently of 2012, however, the Court never stated which employees would be covered.
The Honorable Judge Aiken denied the schools motion. Aiken looked at four factors in determining whether Richardson was a member of the clergy, or another employee as defined by the exception, Judge Aiken determined that she was not. First, Richardson is an assistant professor of exercise science, a secular position. Second, in order to hold Richardson’s position, she did not have to take any special religious training. Third, while Richardson herself is a Christian, there was no evidence that she ever held herself out as a member of the clergy. Further, Judge Aiken admitted that there is some evidence that Richardson did perform some important religious functions in her capacity as a professor, presumably by virtue of her being a teacher at a religious institution. Lastly, outside of being a professor at a religious institution, Richardson never performed any duties normally associated with a member of the clergy, such as leading prayer or escorting her students to church.
Once it was established that Richardson wasn’t an employee or member of the clergy within the meaning of the ministerial exception, Judge Aiken turned to Richardson’s claims of marital discrimination. The Court found that she had indeed been treated differently because of her marital status. This ruling sent a strong message that discrimination will not be tolerated, even at religious institutions. The Court found that the school was less concerned about its employees having sex outside of marriage, but rather the perception that its employees were having sex outside of marriage, leading to de facto animus against pregnant women.
Pregnancy discrimination is common place in religious institutions. Our skilled attorney’s at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience litigating claims based on pregnancy discrimination. Currently, our attorney’s such as Zachery Holzberg , Esq., are working hard on a variety of discrimination claims to protect the rights of their clients. If you feel like you have been discriminated against based on your pregnancy or marital status, please give our skilled attorneys a call, toll-free, at 877-469-5297 for a free consultation about your possible claim.
Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you have ever experienced sexual harassment in a major male dominated corporation in New York City, Miami, New Jersey, or Philadelphia, contact a sexual harassment lawyer in New York City, Miami, New Jersey, or Philadelphia at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC. Our sexual harassment lawyers are thoroughly skilled in sexual harassment and the laws that protect employees from enduring the horrendous activity. They also provide the best legal representation in the tri-state area. For more information on sexual harassment, read our employment law blog.
New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia Employment Attorneys
If you feel you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment in New York, New Jersey or Philadelphia or if your employment rights have been violated, then you should immediately contact the NYC, NJ, PA sexual harassment lawyers at the employment law firm of DEREK T. SMITH LAW GROUP, PLLC. No one deserves a hostile work environment.
Call today to schedule a FREE sexual harassment legal advice Consultation in NY, NJ & PA with one of our top rated sexual harassment attorneys here at the Derek Smith Law Group you can reach us online or by calling 877-469-5297. Our NYC employment law attorneys handle a variety of cases involving sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and other employment-related claims. We serve clients throughout New York, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. We also have offices in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Miami to serve you.
Make Sure Your Lawyers Have the Verdicts To Back Up Their Negotiations – Results Matter!
- $4.025 Million Jury Verdict Awarded in Employment Discrimination Case
- $2.5 million jury verdict awarded to sexual harassment victim
- $2.2 Million Jury Verdict Awarded to Race Discrimination Victim Against Well Known Glassware Company
- $1.6 Million Jury Verdict Awarded to Sexual Orientation and Religious Discrimination Victim
- Largest NY Verdict In Employment Law for 2012.
- Why Don’t Most Employees Report Misconduct at Work? - July 20, 2021
- Get the Best New York City Sexual Harassment Lawyer Near You - May 20, 2021
- 6 Pregnancy Rights You Need to Know - April 20, 2021
- Sex for Rent Schemes Hit Low-Income Renters - February 3, 2021
- Know your rights: Can you get fired if you refuse to take the COVID vaccine? - February 2, 2021
- How to Find an Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Los Angeles - February 2, 2021
- 6 Ways to Take Time Off When Emergency Leave Expires - December 24, 2020
- 12 Ways Sexual Harassment Targets Work from Home Employees - November 19, 2020
- Black Women Golfing Leads to Race Discrimination - November 16, 2020
- 5 Signs to Identify Child Sexual Abuse - October 13, 2020