Appellate Court Allows Pregnancy Discrimination Against Religious School

On May 16, 2012, the federal appellate court, reversed summary judgment for the employer and allowed a teacher to proceed with her pregnancy discrimination claim against a religious school in Central Florida. Hamilton v. Southland Christian Sch., Inc., 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 9865 (11th Cir. 2012). The teacher claimed that the school fired her after learning that she became pregnant out of wedlock. The school, in sum, countered that it fired the teacher because she engaged in premarital sex, which was “immoral” and violated the school’s religious ideals.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”) “protects the right to get pregnant”. This case is significant because the teacher had no non-pregnant staff members whom she could claim the school treated differently. Despite the lack of a comparator, the Court found that the teacher presented “enough non-comparison circumstantial evidence to raise a reasonable inference of intentional discrimination.” Therefore, the Court sent the case back to the trial court for a jury to decide the ultimate issue of whether the school violated the teacher’s “right to get pregnant”.

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