Unwed Professor Asks Christian University For Maternity Leave, Gets Pink Slip Instead

When you’re a Christian university, many cost-cutting measures are available to you than to others who do not enjoy the convenience of being a faith-based organization.

For instance, when an unmarried professor becomes pregnant and requests maternity leave, it is a lot cheaper to just fire her than to actually grant it. Coty Richardson, a now-former professor at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon, was shocked after she enquired with human resources about the prospect of taking maternity leave in November, when her pregnancy was about to end.

Instead of receiving the requested information, the unwed mother was terminated from her job. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Richardson said she received notice that her “lifestyle” — choosing to have a child with her partner — was inconsistent with Northwest’s “faith-based” policies. Richardson was given three choices: Marry the child’s father, end her relationship, or lose her job.

“Your pregnancy outside of marriage and cohabitation with the father is incompatible with NCU’s missions and goals,” a letter signed by Dean of the Faculty and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dennis R. Lindsay reads, in part. “NCU expects its faculty to be role models for the students. Since your marital status is generally known and your pregnancy will become obvious to all, it will be apparent to faculty and students you have engaged in a lifestyle that docs not reflect faith-based conduct consistent with NCU goals or expectations.”


Richardson says she was “mortified and crushed” when she received the letter from the university’s Human Resources department, but that she “refused to cut ties with the father of her child and her partner of twelve years.” Administrators gave her a week to decide if she wanted to sacrifice more than a decade of her life with a man she loved, if she wanted to get married against her will, or if she would leave her job. She told administrators she did not wish to discuss her personal life any further, and was ultimately fired on July 28.

Richardson seeks $600,000 in damages in the lawsuit, which accuses Northwest Christian of pregnancy, sex and marital status discrimination, as well as wrongful termination and breach of contract.

UCLA School of Law professor and legal blogger Eugene Volokh notes that, if Richardson was a chaplain or taught religion classes, the school might have a strong First Amendment defense, but Richardson taught exercise science — a subject far removed from the Christian religion:

“But it looks like there’s nothing particularly religious about her job other than her teaching at a religious university,” he told Law Blog.”

What is truly baffling — aside from how an employer can feel worthy of injecting itself into the personal life of an employee — is that Northwest Christian University, while practicing this blatant discrimination, possesses 501(c)(3) status. In a page begging for donations, the university proudly announces:

A gift to the NCU Annual Fund for Excellence can be given in full or pledged over multiple months. All gifts are processed by the University, a private, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

“With careful consideration, you can take care of your family and leave a lasting legacy to NCU,” the school tells potential donors. Unfortunately, this is a “legacy” of oppressing a woman who did nothing besides have a child with a longtime partner without marriage being involved — a “legacy” of a backwards ideology that considers women inferior and unable to make decisions regarding what comes out of, or goes into their own bodies.

It’s time that we as Americans demand that religious organizations that practice discrimination be stripped of tax-exempt status, so that they can finally contribute something positive to society through the taxes they are unwilling to pay. They may believe as they wish and, unfortunately, may discriminate in some ways if they wish to do so, but we do not have to allow these awful organizations to steal money from taxpayers.

Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info



Revolutionize your Classroom: Fast, Easy, and Safe Websites