• Sun, Mar 3 2013

School Fires Woman For Engaging In Premarital Sex, Offers Job To Her Fiance

shutterstock_107147522Last fall, Teri James was fired for premarital sex. She was let go from her job at a Christian college in California when she got pregnant and it became obvious that she was disobeying some codes of the campus. Shocking as it may be, this isn’t the first time someone has been fired for not abiding by the “moral code” of a Christian institution. I have no problem with private Christian institutions having certain codes – I just wish they would apply to men and women alike and be of this century. James has enlisted the help of high-profile attorney Gloria Allred to sue the school.

Teri James was pulled into her supervisor’s office in October 2012, where she was asked if she was pregnant and then let go:

“I had to leave right after the meeting. I had to go into the office with all of my co-workers and say I’m leaving,” James said. “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.”

Premarital sex is a violation of school rules. All employees of San Diego Christian College are asked to sign a handbook that states the community and moral codes of the institution – the Handbook and Community Covenant. Employees are expected to abide by these codes. James admitted to signing the handbook because she was in need of a job: ”We all had to sign it,” James said. “I needed a job in this economy and so I never thought that anything would happen — I just needed a job.” Allred claims that the handbook does not state anywhere that employees will be fired if they do not comply.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that she was terminated for having sex out of wedlock in the year 2012 – in a bizarre, hypocritical and infuriating twist – the college went on to offer her job to her fiance. What? Pretty sure he’s engaging in premarital sex, too.

The “Community Covenant” asks all in the community – teachers and students alike – to abstain from things like drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Also on its list of no-no’s are “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.”

What kind of homophobic, backwards crap is this? Can we agree that it is impossible to abstain from all of these things? Christ himself couldn’t even abide by these codes. I support her lawsuit because I think what happened to her was sexist and humiliating. But at the end of the day, the fight should be against these “moral codes” existing as contracts on these campuses. Don’t sign something that asks you to do the impossible. Then maybe you won’t be in a position to be fired for something like premarital sex.

(photo: sam72/ Shutterstock.com)

 

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  • Kalalu

    I’m pretty sure Christ could have followed these rules because he did. That’s kind of the whole idea behind the religion. But I agree that it’s incredibly sexist and stupid.

    • http://www.facebook.com/iwill.findu.90 Iwill Findu

      Christ’s first miracle was to turn water into wine and a few different places in the bible talks about Jesus having wine. Since wine is in fact alcohol not even Jesus Christ followed all those rules. But yes I also agree it’s stupid and sexist since the school has pretty much said they’re cool with men having sex outside of marriage by giving the job to the father of their ex-teachers baby.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

      What about the parts of the code that deal with internal thoughts (i.e lust and jealousy)? We’re not Christ after all….while the code is probably legal if it’s equally enforced, those are just really colossally stupid.

    • meteor_echo

      And, as always, I agree with you. I don’t understand why people think they can enforce their rules onto somebody out of the work time. People are saying here that the woman shouldn’t have agreed to work in such a place, but the problem is that the places like this even exist.

    • http://twitter.com/Footnotegirl Jennifer Klumpp

      See also: whipping the money changers in the temple = abusive anger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

    No premarital sex clauses are typically legal (I think) for private schools. They’re stupid, but they’re legal…if they’re used an enforced equally. Since they’re pretty clearly not enforcing them equally, they might be opening themselves up to a discrimination lawsuit. Stupid move.

  • faifai

    Teachers are supposed to provide a good example and positive role model to their students. At an avowedly Christian school, that’s an even stricter definition of ‘role modelling.’ So in other words what we have here is a stupid girl who signed a piece of paper without paying attention to what was on it, then gets mad when there are consequences to her unthinking acts. (Seriously, how hard is it to go to Planned Parenthood and get some birth control until after the wedding? You’re in CA, not ND.) Offering the job to the fiance, however… That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Although, thinking about it, they might have to wait until after the baby is born to prove via dna test that the child was his, that therefore he also engaged in premarital sex, and that sexism occurred in offering him the job.

    • chickadee

      I know people who have taught at schools like this (well, not quite as bad as this) and the premarital sex clause is difficult to execute against the male party unless he’s been caught in flagrente or unless he volunteers the information. In fact, unless the couple is caught publicly engaging in sex, the only time the statute is enforced is when someone is carrying proof of the violation in the form of a fetus. So it is kind of weightwd against the woman. But for goodness sake, if you work for a place like this, use birth control pills AND condoms if you value your job….!

    • faifai

      Exactly! I know someone who works for Regent University (one of the top christian colleges in the country) and, well, you know what you’re signing up for when you go in there. Parents who send their kids to christian schools, and attendees of those same schools, have a reasonable expectation that a certain level of morality will be upheld, just like those of us who attended public schools had the reasonable expectation that our teachers would not be sex offenders. If you can’t uphold that level of expectation, don’t work there.
      I can’t see how the statute is weighted against women, honestly. If you don’t make pornos, or have sex in public, no one is going to know until a pregnancy happens–for either gender. If you’re discreet and take reasonable precautions, it’s quite possible to outwardly appear as if you’re following ALL of the strictures.

    • chickadee

      Well, when I say it’s weighted against women, I mean that the guy who gets a woman pregnant can get away with no consequences while it’s pretty obvious the woman can’t. But it does seem incredibly naive to think that just because you don’t personally believe these things, or because you think they are backward, then you shouldn’t actually be fired if you violate them.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

      Except, it’s HIS CHILD she’s carrying so there’s damn good evidence he’s been having premarital sex too.

    • chickadee

      Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. You can’t actually prove it until it’s born, and he could deny it in the meantime. I am not saying that a nice person would do that, but it is possible. We are talking about seriously jeezly people here, so they might buy that the woman was a jezebel and cheated on her innocent fiance, if he chose to spin the situation that way. I have actually seen that happen in the case of a couple of undergrads.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

      Reaching. If two people are in a committed relationship, and one of them gets pregnant, the reasonable assumption is going to be that the other partner was involved in the process. And of course, after the kid’s born it can be proved beyond a doubt with DNA testing. I think it’s enough that the school’s at real risk for a discrimination suit for unequal enforcement of the rules.

      What *should* be just as damaging to a school that values its reputation is the blatant hypocrisy. If you want to stand and preach against premarital sex, but then hire someone that (99% probably)got a former staff member pregnant out of wedlock….it makes it hard to claim that you’re an upstanding institution.

    • chickadee

      Well, yes, the schools ARE reaching…I have seen this happen with undergrads (although anecdotes aren’t proof. But check the handbooks for this kind of school–it has happened before, and it has obviously happened here). ds. A friend of mine teaches at one of these places, and a girl was dismissed for being pregnant while her boyfriend received no punishment at all. It *is* based on what can be proven, not the reasonable assumption. These fundies are crazy when it comes to sex, and their rules are what prevails.

  • chickadee

    I am sorry she lost her job, but she knew the stakes when she signed the document. It’s pretty standard for private Christian schools and higher ed. And even though I strongly disagree with the terms, I will also state that if you are going to pretend to believe it in order to get a job, don’t be surprised if a violation leads to exactly what they told you would happen.

    Some of the rules are pretty backwards, but it’s permitted under the constitution and some people do believe it. Just don’t work for them.

    • whiteroses

      I agree with this. You can’t sign a legal contract (because I’m pretty sure it’s legal) and then sue whatever institution you signed it for when you violate it. This is pretty much the same thing as working at a Muslim university, signing a contract not to drink alcohol, and showing up drunk. I think in some way the school was trying to look out for her when they offered the job to her fiance. But it was hypocritical to the extreme.

    • Jen

      My understanding of the suit wasn’t wrongful termination, it was discrimination. As in, I’m a female engaging in premarital sex and fired, however, a male counterpart, whom I can PROVE engaged in premarital sex, since he is the father of my child, was hired in her place. THAT is grounds for a lawsuit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.white.3532507 Paul White

      Exactly. Contracts have to be evenly enforced or you open yourself up to all sorts of legal problems. The school should *really* not have done that, it was an amazingly stupid move.

    • chickadee

      Actually, there is some uncertainty about the job thing. He was not offered HER job, and this source says that he was offered a job before she was fired…. http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/teri-james-fired-christian-college-because-she-was-pregnant

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=699618735 Cara Crowes

      Hope she sues that school! That school is SEXIST, WRONG, and repressive. Just a mockery of Christianity. These fools think they can throw the first stone.

  • jef3r

    I want to know if the fiance accepted the job. LOL!

  • Tea

    Wait, where in the Bible does it say not to drink or smoke? I’m pretty sure there’s a reason that water became wine, guys. Especially given that that miracle happened at a party.

    I’m with Chickadee on this one. She did violate her contract and she is working for a private institution with a code of conduct. It may be backwards and strict, but she did apply for it and agree. I’d never apply to such a place as a person in a homosexual relationship, and I wouldn’t pitch a fuss if I was fired over it if I knew it wasn’t allowed.

    And hiring her fiancee just… baffles me.

    • once upon a time

      It’s been a while between Bible readings but IIRC, the Bible says it’s okay to drink but not to get drunk or, more specifically, to loose control and allow evil thoughts to influence you.

      That doesn’t have much to do with your comment, I just got excited cause I knew the answer :)

    • Tea

      Yep! But it seemed like what they laid out was just simply “consuming alcohol” or “smoking.” both of which can be done without addiction or making a fool of oneself. My mother is in the process of her theology masters and I’m her study/debate partner when she needs one.

    • whiteroses

      It does mention in the Bible several times to avoid strong drink- “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is decieved thereby is not wise.”- Proverbs 20:1. Quite a few Christians avoid alcohol entirely and never touch it because they see it as 1) damaging to their reputation if it’s done in public, and thus to their Christian witness, 2) there are many incidents in the Bible, starting with the story of Noah and ending with 1 Peter, that reference drunkenness as a sin, 3) the loss of self-control that comes with drunkeness can lead to unintentional sinning. However, in a broader sense, the Bible doesn’t directly condemn drinking alcohol. In fact, we believe Jesus was perfect, and He did drink wine. But when you make ANYTHING your focus above God, you aren’t giving a good witness. I’ve been a Christian since I was four years old, and I do enjoy an occasional martini or glass of wine, but I’ve never been drunk. Some people (like those who have a predisposition to alcoholism) should never drink. For others, a few drinks may be fine. Either way, Christians are meant to be models. If we get falling-down drunk, that’s one thing we aren’t being.

      As far as smoking, the Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:16-20 that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Many Christians interpret that to mean that God doesn’t want us to do anything to sully our “temple”. Anything that’s an addiction, as smoking is, or could potentially harm others, as smoking does, is not meant for a Christian to do. We’re “in the world- not of the world”.

      Anyway, hope this helps :)

    • Tea

      I do appreciate the thought of the reply, even if it is not new news to me. I was mostly referencing that they seem to condemn the act itself, when neither drinking nor smoking leads to making a fool of oneself or addiction in moderation.

      I’m Catholic myself, and my mother’s study/debate partner as she works towards her theology masters. She actually debated this topic when she was working towards her Bachelors a few years ago, so I remember the arguing points quite well.

      I do hope I’m not coming off as a smug or sarcastic sort, but I didn’t want to let a long and well thought out comment go ignored.

    • whiteroses

      No offense taken at all. I didn’t want to come out with the reply as being prostelytizing. Southern Baptists (which I am) tend to have a more extreme viewpoint on, well, everything, than most other denominations do. I’m considered ridiculously ‘liberal’ by most of my friends and family. Hope I didn’t offend!

      My husband is Catholic- which is probably why I gave the reply that I did- not because Catholics don’t believe the same thing but because he and I have also debated it for fun, because we’re nerds and we like doing that stuff. He plays “devil’s advocate” 99 percent of the time :). Personally, I don’t smoke (asthmatics for the win!), though my husband did when our son was born. He quit cold turkey, and let me tell you that was one heck of a time period in our marriage. I came thisclose to calling a divorce attorney. So I guess that’s why all the stuff about addiction, you know?

    • Tea

      No offense taken at all, I’m a hard guy to bother, and I always appreciate a good debate. I do it all the time with my spouse, too (I’m Greek Orthodox to be precise, and he’s non-denominational protestant.) I only get angry when someone pulls the “Gay Christians don’t exist” card.

      And quite understandable taking the addiction angle given the situation. My husband and I are both very occasional pipe or cigar smokers, so I sometimes don’t always recall that most cigarette smokers aren’t just in it for the flavor and nuances. We treat it like how most people enjoy wine, including not partaking around children or others who might be upset.

  • Byron

    I have to wonder, where did honesty go? Where did keeping your word go?

    This woman flat out lied, she justifies this by saying “I needed the money/job” and…everyone is just fine with this. I bet if the subject was a black teen from the projects who lied about something in order to get a job and then was fired, everyone would be “well, he shouldn’t have lied about this or that, he got what he deserved”. Nobody would be fine with the “I needed the job” excuse.

    Retarded though it may be, this institution has the RIGHT to set its own rules and regulations. She was taking advantage of the institution by accepting their dirty homophobe anachronistic money without fulfilling all of her obligations.

    Breach of contract is SERIOUS BUSINESS, she’s lucky she wasn’t sued and was merely fired for doing so.

    Firing people for premarital sex is dumb but being fine with lying in a contract that you sign your name to, doing that without NEVER intending to fulfill it in the first place is even more dumb in my view.

    • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

      Honestly, if she had been fired and that had been the end of it. I would still think it’s shitty, but I would agree, she signed a contract.

      BUT the fact that they hired her Fiancé is the infuriating and unjust part of it that’s being bitched about

    • Byron

      The argument that an institution which lists homosexuality as a reason they won’t hire people is unjust, infuriating and so on is a redundant one. Of course they are, they’re much more. We don’t need to elaborate, I’m sure most people realize it and the mere thought of “Christian School” conjures images of insanity and potentially child abuse.

      I see little reason to go on about that stuff.

      The fact that this woman was fine about lying on a thing she signed just cause she needed a job and the reaction (or lack thereof) to that is a much more interesting aspect of the story to me personally.

    • http://www.sarahcooksthebooks.com/ Sarah

      As someone who went to a Christian school from Kindergarten until my freshman year of high school, I can tell you that by you saying “the mere thought of ‘Christian School’ conjures images of insanity and potentially child abuse” makes you no better than the schools and their ridiculous rules.

    • whiteroses

      Thanks for that, Sarah. Speaking as someone who had a similar education- I can safely say that I was never abused. I was never treated badly. In fact, considering the fact that I was an Army brat most of my life, I would argue that Christian schools gave me a well-rounded, complete education that I would never have gotten otherwise. All the schools my parents chose had the same curriculum base, which meant that no matter how many times we moved, I was never behind my classmates. In a lot of cases, I was actually ahead of them. I have no educational gaps and I had passionate and well-trained teachers.

      I’m not saying that all experiences are like mine was. But rampant generalizations never do any good, Byron- and in fact, make you sound intolerant.

  • Michelle

    As a Christian, I am trying to recall where exactly in the bible it states that you should take away a job from a woman who is pregnant so that she no longer has an income or possibly insurance to care for said child because she isn’t married. I agree that they should punish her somehow because she broke the contract, knowing full well that she wasn’t supposed to do what she did. I am just having a hard time thinking any one could live with that on their conscience…especially those that believe they are going to have to answer to their maker for it. So much for that whole Jesus and forgiveness deal.

  • Sara

    I’m going to echo what a lot of other people have said……although it’s (IMO) a stupid rule, she signed a legal contract agreeing to a code of conduct that included no premarital sex. She broke that rule, therefore her firing is legal. Gloria Allred’s claim that the handbook doesn’t explicitly state that violators would be fired, as though that somehow mitigates things, is weak at best. Once you sign a code of contract, you’re agreeing to abide by it–you don’t get to sign a contract, break the rules, and then decide retroactively that the rule shouldn’t apply to you.

    The problem comes in when they offered the job to her fiance, who clearly was also breaking the code of conduct by having extramarital sex. This is where they’re opening themselves up to a sexual-discrimination lawsuit, particularly if there’s any documentation that the school knew the fiance was the one having sex with the pregnant teacher. This strikes me as an unbelievably stupid move on the school’s part.

  • Justme

    Um….this could have easily been avoided if she had just told the school about this dream where an angel came and spoke with her about a child of God’s that she would soon be bearing.

  • Concerned

    Ummm, Jesus Christ drank wine but he did not get drunk. He is without sin. It wasn’t that Christ didn’t abstain. It was cultural for one to drink wine with dinner. The writer of this article blew it with that comment.

  • faith

    Thank you Doctor Deva for your help because since i have been married to my husband i have not be able to get my own kid and my mother in law wants me out of the house because she think i can’t give bath to a baby but since you cast a spell for me and it been five months now since you cast a spell for me and i started seeing changes in me i and my husband are now happy now and we are expecting our baby by June i am very grateful for your help doctor Deva Email: lakshmantemple@gmail.com you are more than just a father to me.