11th Circuit Says Teacher Fired For Pre-Marital Sex Has A Case

Let me start by saying that I disagree with the school’s decision to fire the teacher. Yeah, pre-martial sex is un-Biblical, however when the woman found out she was preganant, she legally married the father (its called repentance)

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” – Jesus Christ, Matthew 9:12-14

With that said, it is a religious school operated on religious principles as laid out by their governing body. It is their right (ministerial exception) to apply those principles to their employment practices as long as they are uniformly applied.

Overturning a lower court ruling in the school’s favor, the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit found that Jarretta Hamilton was entitled to a trial on her claims of pregnancy discrimination by the Southland Christian School Inc in St. Cloud, Florida

Hamilton, a fourth-grade teacher at the religious school, informed administrators in April 2009 that she was pregnant and needed to take maternity leave. During the conversation, she admitted that she had conceived the child three weeks before her February wedding.

One week later, the school fired her. Administrator John Ennis explained that “there are consequences for disobeying the word of God,” according to the court opinion.

via Teacher fired over pregnancy can sue religious school.

The 11th Circuit even acknowledged that the ministerial exception might apply, but since the school did not invoke it during the appeal defense, it was not applied.

Southland’s brief mentions the ministerial exception only once, and that is when describing the district court’s rulings: “The Court determined that the ministerial exception did not apply in this case.” Appellee Br. 7. Southland abandoned that exception as a defense by failing to list or otherwise state it as an issue on appeal. – Opinion

So really this is a matter of stupid lawyers who did not invoke the school’s rights. I guess the lesson is, unless you claim your rights, they don’t exist.

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