Judge Carnes is at it again, starting his opinion with this short declarative grade-school-style "grabber":
A woman of childbearing age was hired as a teacher at a small Christian school. Then she got pregnant, married, and fired. In that order. Then she filed a lawsuit. She lost on summary judgment. This is her appeal.Good thing the school said it fired her because of the premarital sex, not because she was pregnant.
Wait -- the school's "defense" is it fired her for having premarital sex???
On Sunday, April 5, 2009, Hamilton met with John and Julie Ennis, Southland’s administrator and assistant administrator, to tell them that she was pregnant and to ask for maternity leave during the next school year. During that meeting, she admitted that she had conceived the child before getting married. Southland fired Hamilton the following Thursday, purportedly because she had sinned by engaging in premarital sex and, as John Ennis put it, “there are consequences for disobeying the word of God.”Was this 2009 or 1859?
(BTW, most children born in the U.S. are born out of wedlock.)
Unfortunately for the school, discrimination based on a woman's pregnancy is (still) against the law, and there were disputed issues of fact that should have gone to a jury:
Hamilton also presented evidence vitiating the veracity of Southland’s purported reason for firing her—that she had premarital sex. John Ennis testified at deposition that, even though Hamilton committed the sin of premarital sex, “[i]f, in fact, she would have said to us I’m sorry that I’ve sinned against the Lord and this school, we would not be here. We could have gone in another total direction.. . . [But] I never heard her say she was sorry.” But Hamilton testified that after she told the Ennises about her pregnancy:Seems like a nice place to work, and at least the school did everything possible to make this wonderful event in this woman's life a joyous occasion.
I became afraid that I had done something horrible. And I went to God in prayer, and my husband and I both together, and asked for forgiveness. And I expressed that to Mr. Ennis. Hopefully, you know, letting him know that I, you know, was remorseful for what had—you know, if I’ve done something so horrible against God. And that God had forgiven me, and I just wanted him to, if, you know, it was such a horrible thing. But it didn’t make a difference.So, her testimony contradicted John Ennis’ testimony that he had never heard her say she was sorry and that he would not have fired her if she had. For that and the other reasons we have discussed, Hamilton has established a genuine issue of material fact about the reason that Southland fired her. The ultimate issue is one for a jury to decide.
I hope the jury remembers that.