A woman from Carlifonia is suing a Christian school after her employer asked point-blank if she was pregnant, then fired her.
Teri James, 29, was unmarried when she was hired as a financial aid specialist at San Diego Christian College, according to her lawyer. The woman desperately needed a job, so she signed a contract and agreed to abide by the school’s moral codes, which include abstaining from premarital sex. She said she is humiliated by her dismissal — especially after the school offered her boyfriend a job.
The El Cajon, Calif. resident had been working at the college for two years. The woman signed the agreement before she became pregnant. James claims that the school knew that her boyfriend — whom she later married — had also engaged in premarital sex.
Her husband didn’t take the job. It was James who received the axe. She had to vacate the building right after the meeting with her supervisor.
“I had to go into the office with all of my co-workers and say I’m leaving,” James told NBC’s “Today.” “I never came back so I don’t know what my co-workers thought, but for me, it was humiliating. I felt like I was in trouble.”
High-profile women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred signed on to the case, filing a lawsuit in San Diego County’s superior court. Although the college has not yet commented, James’ termination letter states that the woman was fired for engaging in activity “that does not build up the college’s mission.”
In the college’s “community covenant,” employees and students agree to stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco. They are also required to abstain from “abusive anger, malice, jealousy, lust, sexually immoral behavior including premarital sex, adultery, pornography and homosexuality,” according to Allred’s statement.
“It does not say that you will be fired if you do not comply,” Allred told “Today.”
The lawyer said the college will argue that since it is a Christian organization, it has the right to fire James. But Allred will argue that the termination is illegal because the school is a business.
James, who identifies as a Christian, called the school’s actions “hurtful and un-Christ like.”
“I was unmarried, pregnant and they took away my livelihood,” James said in a statement. “San Diego Christian College did not show any mercy or grace towards me.”