Target: Robert Jensen, Dean of Administration and Finance at San Diego Christian College
Goal: Apologize for firing an employee for becoming pregnant and offer her her job back
While many women who intend to start families may face hiring discrimination, many enjoy protection from being fired simply for giving birth and taking maternity leave. In the case of Teri James, simply becoming pregnant was considered just cause for her to lose her job. James’s supervisor at San Diego Christian College called her into his office and bluntly asked if she was pregnant. Having just learned the news with her fiancé, she responded honestly that she was. But because James had signed a contract pledging not to engage in “immoral” activity like premarital sex, she soon found herself fired from her job.
Astonishingly, San Diego Christian College promptly offered James’s fiancé the very same position that she had just been fired from—even though he had obviously engaged in the exact same indiscretion that got her fired. She has since enlisted the help of an attorney to sue her former employer.
The fact that San Diego Christian College was willing to hire James’s now-husband to replace her illustrates how her case is not an issue of morals, but of discrimination. The private Christian school may have been unwilling to host an unmarried pregnant woman on its campus, but it was perfectly content hiring an unmarried man who had also engaged in premarital sex. This case is just one of many that proves how the burden of Christian morality weighs more heavily on women than men.
San Diego Christian College should not have fired Teri James in her time of need, no matter the contract she signed at the start of her employment. Urge the school’s Dean of Administration to apologize and give James her job back.
Dear Mr. Jensen,
When Teri James lost her job at your institution, she bore the brunt of a long history of sexist firing practices. All too often, working women seeking to start families are fired outright because employers do not want to find a temporary replacement for them while they take their maternity leave. In James’s case, it certainly seems as though she was fired not because she engaged in premarital sex, but because she was a pregnant woman. After all, your school offered her job to the man who is now her husband—who had engaged in the very same premarital sex.
As a Christian organization, San Diego Christian College should be supportive of young couples seeking to start families, not dismissive of their choices. James and her husband are now married and in need of a second income to support their child. I urge you to reconsider your decision to fire Teri James, offer her her job back, and apologize for your misstep.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Stefan Pasch via Flickr