A Christian child-care facility in Ohio has settled claims that it fired an employee who is a single mother after she told them she was pregnant.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Ohio filed the lawsuit in October 2013 on behalf of Jennifer Maudlin, a single mother of two who worked as a cook at Inside Out, the child-care facility in Springfield, Ohio. According to Maudlin’s complaint, she was fired under an unwritten company policy prohibiting employees from engaging in non-marital sex.
According to Maudlin’s complaint, in the fall of 2012 she told Inside Out’s office manager that she was pregnant. Maudlin claims the supervisor reacted with “shock” and told her she was not to work the rest of the week. About a week later, the complaint alleges, Maudlin was fired.
Maudlin’s complaint alleges that unmarried women who become pregnant while working at Inside Out faced hostile treatment and would eventually be fired or resign. It also says that Inside Out had a policy and practice of policing the non-marital sexual activity of its female employees and relied exclusively on pregnancy status to single out employees for termination or other adverse employment actions. According to the complaint, Inside Out knew of male employees violating employment policies by drinking or engaging in drug use, but they were not disciplined.
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“This is America where no one should lose their job because they have decided to have a family—whether they are male or female, married or single,” Maudlin said in a statement. “I hope my experience will empower other women to stand up to sex discrimination in the workplace.”
Maudlin’s complaint seeks monetary damages and the adoption of a workplace policy at Inside Out prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. According to the ACLU, Inside Out has agreed to adopt such a policy.
The allegations come at a time when religious conservatives are looking to create legal protections for discriminating on the basis of their religious beliefs by expanding state-level religious freedom restoration statutes.
“No one should be singled out, shamed, or fired from their job for having a baby, regardless of marital status,” Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, said in a statement. “An organization’s religious affiliation should not give it free rein to ignore laws against sex discrimination.”