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Fired For Fornication
June 27, 2010 8:57 AM   Subscribe

Jarretta Hamilton, a teacher at a Christian school in Orlando, was fired after it was discovered that her baby was conceived before she was married.
posted by reenum (157 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't act surprised when you're thrown outta the club house for not following the rules, however silly they may be.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:03 AM on June 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


First, she was stupid for admitting it. Second, as someone who went to one of these kind of Christian schools for a while, she doesn't have a prayer. Anyone familiar with the culture/theology of these places should have known to keep any "indiscretions" under wraps. Also, in my particular Southern Christian school, African-Americans were given a much shorter behavioral leash. The hammer of discipline always fell harder on African-Americans
posted by MasonDixon at 9:04 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aren't these sorts of morals clauses very common for school teachers? I'm not sure how she could have been blindsided by this.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:05 AM on June 27, 2010


Jesus would have thrown the first stone at her. I mean, it's not as if Jesus was about forgiving sin. The sin that all men and women have from birth.
posted by orthogonality at 9:06 AM on June 27, 2010 [33 favorites]


The reasonable thing to do in such a case is ask yourself: What would Jesus do?

And the answer to that is, that Jesus, being known his message of intolerance and religious orthodoxy, clearly would *not* have tolerated sex three weeks before the wedding vows.
posted by sour cream at 9:07 AM on June 27, 2010 [22 favorites]


This was stupid. She GOT MARRIED. She was MARRIED when the principal baldfaced started counting weeks.

I think this was less about God and a little more about not wanting to cover maternity leave.

(The school was within its rights to have a morality clause but come on, he who is without sin cast the first stone and all that. And sending a letter out to everyone detailing exactly why she was let go is just totally not right.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:08 AM on June 27, 2010 [42 favorites]


I don't see the problem here. Isn't it expected that Christian schools only hire what they consider to be "Christians in good standing?"

This surely came as a surprise to her, but it seems like the school is just trying to stick to its principles and not hire anyone they consider a poor example for children. Regardless of how you feel about premarital sex, private Christian schools have an ideological and moral agenda to push. If you don't like that, maybe you should take issue with the idea of private schools altogether.

If it were a public school, this would be extremely weird and a serious problem. This is a private Christian school, so I'm just thinking she picked the wrong place to apply. :/
posted by edguardo at 9:08 AM on June 27, 2010


None of the 9 year olds she taught would have counted the weeks, so I'm not sure how they would be damaged by their pregnant teacher.
posted by phunniemee at 9:12 AM on June 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


The first three comments are, frankly, insane, pure blame-the-victim bullshit. I am very disappointed.

This isn't a funtime clubhouse, this is someone's career. If keeping your job as an educator, not a preacher or deacon or suchlike, just a schoolteacher, means you must undergo forced conversion or lose your livelihood, well, something is seriously wrong there.

Apart and aside from that, it's an invasion of the woman's privacy and obscenely cruel to pillory her before the staff and students.

This is why "Right To Work" laws suck. You aren't an employee as much as you are a paid slave, expected to worship and believe as the master does on or off the clock.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:12 AM on June 27, 2010 [20 favorites]


There are no good guys here. The school's rules are clearly absurd, antiquated, and rooted in a hypocritical cherrypicked interpretation of the Bible. However, the teacher knew those rules and chose to disobey them anyway, and then went whinging to the courts for redress when she did.

This is one of those "A pox on both their houses" situations as far as I'm concerned.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:15 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Look, I go to a very conservative church with a Bible college connected to it. While I was studying for my worship leading certificate, a classmate (unmarried) became pregnant.

She repented, she was forgiven, she was NOT kicked out of class, and she graduated, albeit noticeably pregnant.

Look, either the blood of Jesus purchases forgiveness or it doesn't. We have a statement in Christianity that goes something like this: "Love covers." It doesn't go out of its way to expose people's sins.

We also had another church staff member, a male assistant, have some sort of moral failure and be suspended from his job. It was done very quietly, and to this day I don't know exactly what happened, even tho I knew him, and knew his boss, etc. etc. The majority of folks probably thought he got another job and left. He had the option of returning after a year (which he did not, and again I have no idea where he went.)

(Now, if a pastor failed morally, it would probably be noted and he would probably be given his opportunity to express to the congregation what was going on-that type of position requires more daylight when something happens a la Ted Haggard. But that? Is Different.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:16 AM on June 27, 2010 [24 favorites]


My grandmother and mother both work at the fundamentalist evangelical private school where I went to for K-8, so I speak from no small amount of experience when I say this is pretty much standard operating procedure. I remember my school's principal being run out on a rail (almost literally) when he was caught soliciting.

As an atheist, I think it's horrible that somebody's choices outside of work like this can lead to the loss of their job, but there is a legitimate argument in favor of the school, here:

Ultimately parents send their children to Christian schools because they want their children to be instructed by teachers whose values reflect (they hope) their own. If the parents of her students were to discover this (and in my experience they *all* will find out quickly, even if the school tried to hush it up), they'd rapidly start pulling their children out of her class, as well as the grades immediately prior to hers.

Parents in grades higher than the one she taught will be marginally less likely to do so, but a number would still pull their children because the school was willing to tolerate a person living in contradiction to their culture's interpretation of the Bible.

To a large extent these private schools are private businesses, and their clients demand that the employees be outwardly moral people. The school administration and board would be negligent from a fiscal responsibility perspective if they didn't fire her.

Ethically, I don't personally like it, but I don't personally agree with the ethics of religious indoctrination as a part of education to begin with. This situation is, however, an almost inevitable outcome of that system, and within context of both the school's as a cultural microcosm and a business, there was never a choice here.
posted by Ryvar at 9:16 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first three comments are, frankly, insane, pure blame-the-victim bullshit. I am very disappointed.

It's totally not insane to expect that someone be aware of what things can get them fired from their job.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


means you must undergo forced conversion

Sex before marriage was prohibited in the contract that she signed. Yes, the school was wrong for sending out a letter to the parents about it, but why wouldn't they be within their right to fire her for it?
posted by kro at 9:17 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


If this goes anything like previous cases, there'll be a bit of closeted comeuppance ... coming up.
posted by flippant at 9:18 AM on June 27, 2010


Unfortunately, Ryvar probably has a point. But considering the time frame-and the fact many pregnancies do pass the due date by a week or so, as well-in this case the school had plenty of wiggle room-and could have waited till AFTER the birth to decide how to handle this.

Again, I cynically still think this had to do with maternity leave.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:21 AM on June 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Look, they may be a school full of judgemental hyprocrites who will destroy this woman's career for the sake of appearances, but at least they've got morals.
posted by Aquaman at 9:23 AM on June 27, 2010 [13 favorites]


St. Alia: the case with your classmate is very different, because parents are vastly more concerned with instructors corrupting the worldview of their children than they are with the activities of the other children. Doubly so when they're in college and "know right from wrong."

Plus, it gives everybody someone to ostracize and think of as "the other", and provides a nice sinner/forgiveness narrative arc to lives desperate for drama.
posted by Ryvar at 9:24 AM on June 27, 2010


Seems like there isn't any discrimination. And Employers are obviously allowed to fire you, at least in at will states, for your activities while not on the clock (EG: drug and alcohol testing). Are their any laws in the US regarding the privacy aspect of the case?

phunniemee writes "None of the 9 year olds she taught would have counted the weeks, so I'm not sure how they would be damaged by their pregnant teacher."

Even if that were true, and I doubt it, all it would take is anyone to do the math and word would spread. I'm pretty sure a 13 year olds in grade seven is going to run the math.
posted by Mitheral at 9:25 AM on June 27, 2010


Unfortunately, Ryvar probably has a point. But considering the time frame-and the fact many pregnancies do pass the due date by a week or so, as well-in this case the school had plenty of wiggle room-and could have waited till AFTER the birth to decide how to handle this.

Again, I cynically still think this had to do with maternity leave.


If there's a bright side to this situation, is that Christian private schools look even more like bastions of hypocrisy and barbarism than they did before.

I know finding jobs is tough, but there comes a point where they just can't pay you enough to put up with their shit. Getting to that point faster, in this case, strikes me as a good thing.

Of course, I have a sinister secular agenda to push...
posted by edguardo at 9:26 AM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Universe will one day forgive all of humanity by slamming this planet with a big fucking rock, just for laughs. The talking monkeys will cease their endless chatter about God and country and Jesus and all this other high, holy horseshit. The roaches will rise to power, and they will live to destroy the demon of their long-forgotten past, the alien metallic tower that spewed death to millions of their kind, the evil lord of the underworld known as Raid.

I need more tea right about now.
posted by dbiedny at 9:26 AM on June 27, 2010 [15 favorites]


Don't act surprised when you're thrown outta the club house for not following the rules, however silly they may be.

I wouldn't be surprised. But I would say that the maintenance and support of a rule system that is simultaneously juvenile and damaging is immoral.
posted by nervousfritz at 9:28 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't see the problem here. Isn't it expected that Christian schools only hire what they consider to be "Christians in good standing?"

Sinning doesn't make you a bad Christian. It makes you a human being. The difference is that Christians are forgiven, and expected to extend that courtesy to others.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:28 AM on June 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


The first three comments are, frankly, insane, pure blame-the-victim bullshit.

My comment was very pointed. People need to realize that when they cherry pick which tenets to believe in their religion, that's going to piss off some members of that religion. Is that fair? No, but it is life.

If this bothers a person, they should leave the religion, not act surprised that the leaders of said religion are actually following the rules of it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:30 AM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Don't act surprised when you're thrown outta the club house for not following the rules, however silly they may be.

Maybe the rule wasn't being applied fairly. Maybe a deal was broken during the self-incrimination and moral interrogation. Maybe they are hypocrites themselves. Maybe they are retaliating as part of some internal politics unrelated to the charge. Maybe it wasn't acting surprised at all, but genuinely surprised.
posted by Brian B. at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"But considering the time frame-and the fact many pregnancies do pass the due date by a week or so, as well-in this case the school had plenty of wiggle room-and could have waited till AFTER the birth to decide how to handle this. "

If Jarretta Hamilton had had the sophistication to request leave for the period starting nine months after her wedding date and then had a "preemie" she would have been fine.
posted by Mitheral at 9:32 AM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is why I don't believe in private school. No one should be allowed to set up an institution that so blatantly disregards basic human rights and be able to call itself a place of education.
posted by Go Banana at 9:34 AM on June 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


If Jarretta Hamilton had had the sophistication to request leave for the period starting nine months after her wedding date and then had a "preemie" she would have been fine.

Yeah, she should totally have lied, which would've been the Christian thing to do.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:34 AM on June 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


Sex before marriage was prohibited in the contract that she signed. Yes, the school was wrong for sending out a letter to the parents about it, but why wouldn't they be within their right to fire her for it?

Because it is an unreasonable and in many states unenforceable stipulation of employment to sign such a contract.

Why did she decide to go to work there? Have you seen the unemployment rates? Legal protections for workers aren't for when times are good and unemployment low - it's for times like now, where people don't have the ability to cherrypick employers or get away from lunatic bosses.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:34 AM on June 27, 2010 [18 favorites]


She got screwed!
posted by republican at 9:38 AM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just think of the amazing lesson all those kids learned!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:42 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here's a question: Did Southland Christian School also suspend or expel any students for similar "morality offenses" during Ms. Hamilton's tenure there? The school is a k-12, so it is very likely that there are some sexually active students at that school.

I'm speculating wildly here, but let's say for the purposes of argument that the school did expel students for morality offenses while Ms. Hamilton worked there (from what I've heard of those kind of places, I don't believe this to be a gigantic stretch). Wouldn't it have been incredibly hypocritical for her to have been complicit (through her employment there) in actions that are potentially ruinous to those students' futures, but then complain when the same standard was applied to her?
posted by deadmessenger at 9:48 AM on June 27, 2010


This thread needs more victim blaming.

Unfair hiring/firing practices are CLEARLY not the point here! The point is that you can't be a Christian teacher and have sex before marriage, and if you do, you're a stupid, unsophisticated slut who deserves to lose her job.
posted by ellehumour at 9:50 AM on June 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Would they have kept her had she had an aborition and let that be known?
posted by Postroad at 9:50 AM on June 27, 2010


kro: Sex before marriage was prohibited in the contract that she signed.

I'm not sure where you got that because it appears to be the opposite of what is being reported. From the first link:

Hamilton told MSNBC she never signed a contract that specifically barred her from having premarital sex.
posted by XMLicious at 9:51 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I think that there might be a case for discrimination in this situation somewhere... If a female commits an "indiscretion" there is obvious proof of the act if she becomes pregnant. There is no such proof for the male teachers other than them actually admitting it. Therefore the morals clause is somewhat biased, no?
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:51 AM on June 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think this was less about God and a little more about not wanting to cover maternity leave.

the problem with the "breaking the clubhouse rules" viewpoint is that "moral values" are ultimately vague (actually it's arguable that a religion based on a personal, all-knowing, all-powerful, miracle working deity can actually form any moral system other than "God told me...") so any contract that can be terminated at-will based on moral judgement becomes abusable:

"Leonard's getting near 20 year retirement bonus, too bad I heard him cussing at the league softball game."

"Mary, we are Christians working in the service of the Lord and Jesus doesn't want you to take a vacation while we go through our 5 year reorganization, we have too much to do..."

Of course, having employees at the loving mercy of their employers is what "right-to-work" is all about so...
posted by ennui.bz at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


She didn't have to lie about it, because unless she had sex just once a month, she probably doesn't know for sure when she got pregnant. A simple response along the lines of, "Well, we got married X months ago, so maybe it happened that night" would suffice.

(Although honestly, asking a woman when she got pregnant is pretty rude, and in my case would probably lead to a snarky response of "Well, it's not like I keep a schedule" or even "Let me review the videotapes and I'll get back to you.")
posted by math at 9:53 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


This exact scenario happened at the school where my daughter went and the teacher team taught with my child's teacher. The young lady told the school asap, planned a very quick wedding and they fired her anyway. Right after, she lost the baby. This young lady was an amazing teacher, the children loved her and this happened over the summer so it could have been "pulled off". The school wouldn't work with her. It was a tragic situation, we don't go there anymore.
posted by pearlybob at 9:55 AM on June 27, 2010


It's nice to see institutionalized panty-sniffing.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 9:57 AM on June 27, 2010


Sinning doesn't make you a bad Christian. It makes you a human being. The difference is that Christians are forgiven, and expected to extend that courtesy to others.

I understand and appreciate your interpretation of Christian doctrine. I wish more people saw it the way you do.

Their interpretation is different from yours, and when it comes to guaranteeing freedom of religion in this country, we can't cherry-pick the interpretations we like.

Freedom to believe what you want includes the freedom to believe things others consider very stupid.
posted by edguardo at 9:57 AM on June 27, 2010


"The first three comments are, frankly, insane, pure blame-the-victim bullshit."

Yes. I *am* blaming her for violating a contract she signed. And in fact violating a clause of the contract that is well known and not in any way subtle or hidden. How is it wrong to blame her for doing what she admits she did?
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:58 AM on June 27, 2010


"I saw Adam leave the garden with an apple in his hand, I said, now you're out what're you going to do? plant some crops and pray for rain maybe raise a little Cain, we are orphans now and only passing through."
posted by hortense at 9:59 AM on June 27, 2010


I'm wondering if they've ever fired a man for a similar offense.
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on June 27, 2010 [21 favorites]


the problem with the "breaking the clubhouse rules" viewpoint is that "moral values" are ultimately vague...so any contract that can be terminated at-will based on moral judgement becomes abusable

Of course, that's the problem with working for crazed religious nuts, they'll pull out the arcane dogma rules when it suits them. If you're going to work for them, you either have to abide by that crap or be willing to lie and put on the company face. Or don't work for them.

I hope she wins the case, just 'cause they're being complete assholes, but really, she doesn't get much sympathy IMO. When you lie down with controlling, micro managing institutions, you'll wake upon their bad side eventually.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:02 AM on June 27, 2010


Mitheral: "I'm pretty sure a 13 year olds in grade seven is going to run the math."

When I was thirteen, my peers could have "run the math" but none of them would have. It the real world, having a baby isn't scandalous or despicable. I can't even fathom the mindset that would allow that, but I guess that's what schools like this are for.
posted by klanawa at 10:03 AM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


These people aren't christians, they are authoritarians, plain and simple.

Dogmatic fealty to those in power is what they are selling, NOT christianity.

Until those who would believe realize this they will be forced to conform to to the whims of tiny little dictators for their chance to "get into heaven."

Theirs' is all about control, and manipulation, anyone can read the fucking bible, I'm not even sure that Jesus was against premarital sex, I'm sure it shows up in the old testament but did Jesus rail against it in the new one?

Can anyone enlighten me here?
posted by Max Power at 10:10 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


When the Rapture happens I'm gonna drive past all the Christian places I can find and laugh at the people that are still there.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Look at the bright side - due to the intolerance of her former employers, she no longer has to work for narrow-minded, short sighted hypocrites for whom 'be fruitful and multiply' only applies if you've previously subjected yourself to an expensive ritual invented for the purpose of making sure women had sex with as few people as possible.

I mean, yeah- it sucks and all she got fired, but did she really want to continue working for these mean spirited, holier than thou meshuga schmucks?
posted by Mooski at 10:12 AM on June 27, 2010


Yes. I *am* blaming her for violating a contract she signed. And in fact violating a clause of the contract that is well known and not in any way subtle or hidden. How is it wrong to blame her for doing what she admits she did?

She admitted she conceived before marriage. However,

"Hamilton told MSNBC she never signed a contract that specifically barred her from having premarital sex. "
posted by oneirodynia at 10:16 AM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Theirs' is all about control, and manipulation, anyone can read the fucking bible, I'm not even sure that Jesus was against premarital sex, I'm sure it shows up in the old testament but did Jesus rail against it in the new one?

Can anyone enlighten me here?


In the story of the woman caught in adultery, (where the Pharisees wanted to stone her) all Jesus said to her was "Go and sin no more."

Sounds like a plan to me.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:18 AM on June 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm not convinced the case is as clear-cut in the school's favor as many of the comments here would assume. Employers can't wave their way out of employment law by just saying that they are a religious institution. I'm not certain she has a very strong case, but there is a case there.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is why I don't believe in private school. No one should be allowed to set up an institution that so blatantly disregards basic human rights and be able to call itself a place of education.

What 'basic human right' did they disregard?
posted by zarq at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The folks over on the Internet dealt with this weeks ago.
posted by squalor at 10:20 AM on June 27, 2010


According to historical Church records, infants born within six months of the wedding were common enough in Puritan New England that they rarely drew comment.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:21 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


posted by empath I'm wondering if they've ever fired a man for a similar offense.

I'm wondering why you think getting pregnant is offensive, and why you think men can get pregnant.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:22 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I would say that the maintenance and support of a rule system that is simultaneously juvenile and damaging is immoral.

Yes, but maintaining and supporting such an insane rule system against the children in her care — who, unlike her, had no choice but to be in such a fucked-up school — was her job, so it's not as though she wasn't complicit. When you hire out as a bully you can't expect very much sympathy when your boss turns on you in turn.

</bitter fundamentalist school escapee>
posted by enn at 10:23 AM on June 27, 2010


I would really love to read an employment contract that includes morality clauses. Does anybody know where I could find a copy of one online?
posted by mmmbacon at 10:24 AM on June 27, 2010


posted by Max Power Can anyone enlighten me here?

Yes. But the question is, can you can be enlightened?
posted by mattdidthat at 10:25 AM on June 27, 2010


I'm not convinced the case is as clear-cut in the school's favor as many of the comments here would assume. Employers can't wave their way out of employment law by just saying that they are a religious institution. I'm not certain she has a very strong case, but there is a case there.

IIRC, Florida's an "at will" state, with no recognized exceptions for public policy, fair dealing, or implied contract. Taking that into consideration, does she still have a case?
posted by zarq at 10:26 AM on June 27, 2010


mmmbacon, they used to be very common in Hollywood.:
The following is an example of a morals clause used in an employment contract in a published case. Employers considering such a clause, however, should be aware that most entertainment industry collective bargaining agreements prohibit such clauses and most lawyers representing employees object.

“The employee agrees to conduct himself with due regard to public conventions and morals, and agrees that he will not do or commit any act or thing that will tend to degrade him in society or bring him into public hatred, contempt, scorn or ridicule, or that will tend to shock, insult or offend the community or ridicule public morals or decency, or prejudice the producer or the motion picture, theatrical or radio industry in general.” See Noah B. Kressler, Using the Morals Clause in Talent Agreements: A Historical, Legal and Practical Guide, COL. J. OF LAW AND THE ARTS, 235, 236 (2005) (citing Lowe’s, Inc. v. Cole, 185 F.2d 641, 645 (9th Cir. 1950)).

posted by zarq at 10:29 AM on June 27, 2010


In the story of the woman caught in adultery, (where the Pharisees wanted to stone her) all Jesus said to her was "Go and sin no more."

Yes but she was presumably married, so again where does he rail against PREMARITAL sex?
posted by Max Power at 10:31 AM on June 27, 2010


I was going to make a FPP post out of this story, but it kind of makes sense here. Elizabeth Collins lost her job at Academy of Notre Dame de Namur after a chain of events that commenced with her blog post about the "annoyance" she felt over a student's assignment.
posted by fixedgear at 10:35 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is certainly a tough case for everybody involved. However, the name of the lawyer Jarretta Hamilton hired to put forward her federal lawsuit must have seemed like insult added to injury to the people at Southland Christian School.

It was bad enough when she was fornicating and then expecting to keep her job over it; how do you think they felt when she hired a Gay to sue them?
posted by koeselitz at 10:35 AM on June 27, 2010


You can't fire someone for conceiving a child. I don't care what your wierd invalid contract you made the person sign. There are not to sides to this issue, there is one side. The woman has an open and shut case of discrimination and the sooner the school settles the matter the better. She also had a case that her medical privacy was violated under HIPPA by the school telling the whole world about her date of conception and other confidential medical information.
posted by humanfont at 10:41 AM on June 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


phunniemee: "None of the 9 year olds she taught would have counted the weeks, so I'm not sure how they would be damaged by their pregnant teacher."

So one day when my brother was first married, his wife says to him, "Honey we are going to my parents house to celebrate their anniversary." "Oh. What number anniversary is this?" "It's a big one. It's their 25th." "25th? Your 25th birthday is in 4 months. Are you sure its not their 26th?" "I am sure it is their 25th. Spoke to mom yesterday about it." "Honey, have you ever done the math?" "What math? I took math in high school." Sis-in-law is very book smart but not so much on street smarts. "You were born 4 months after your parents got married. Have you seen any wedding photos? Was Grandpa holding a shotgun?" "OMG! I never did the math or thought about it.!" 25 years old with a graduate degree this one.

A lot of people, not just 9 year olds don't do the math.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm one to agree with the the opinion that they're all bad guys. What disgusts me even more is the filth she tries to brainwash those children into believing, and she doesn't even follow those guidelines herself. I don't feel sorry for her in the slightest. However, that's religion for you.

If she's going help brainwash the kiddies she should at least follow the rules of the religion. I can see why she got fired, and as much as I don't like it, I have to agree with it.

But hey, we don't all have to like everything that we have to agree with, right?
posted by Malice at 10:44 AM on June 27, 2010


zarq: Yes, if she's alleging unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights act, "at will" does not apply.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:45 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


How would a student "do the math"? Why would a 9 year old, a 13 year old, or an 18 year old know when their teacher was married? I'm 100% certain I never knew the wedding anniversary of any of my teachers, and I went to Catholic (high) school.
posted by desjardins at 10:46 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand the school's position. After all, Mary had sex with someone who wasn't her husband, and she gave birth to an illegitimate child.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:46 AM on June 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I just did a bunch of research prompted by my past impression of the Biblical definition of marriage and the Bible does not appear to actually ever mention "premarital sex". There are passages that mention the "purity of the marriage bed" and specify that sex shouldn't occur outside of marriage but it appears to me that considering sex, by a betrothed couple that occurs three weeks before a 21st century wedding ceremony, to be outside of marriage is a rather flagrant interpretive stretch.

Furthermore in Deuteronomy 22 the death penalty for adultery is mandated for sex after the betrothal (erusin) not just after the wedding ceremony.
posted by XMLicious at 10:51 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Max Power: The Christian Bible does not specifically refer to premarital sex. The Greek word "porneia," literally "sexual immorality," is often translated to mean sex outside of marriage. But I cannot find anything to suggest that this is necessarily an accurate translation. Paul goes on quite a bit about sexual immorality, most notably in 1 Corinthians 7. (He says here that men and women should marry as a concession to sexual passions.)

The most specific the Old Testament/Torah gets on the subject of when, where, how and why not to have sex is in Leviticus 18. Basically, the rule are: no bestiality, no incest, no sleeping with someone else's spouse, no sex during menstruation, and "you shall not lie with a male as with a woman."
posted by brina at 10:53 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


After all, Mary had sex with someone who wasn't her husband, and she gave birth to an illegitimate child.

Jesus wasn't conceived by sex, which is why she's called the Virgin Mary.
posted by lilac girl at 10:58 AM on June 27, 2010


WWJD?
"At this point, we're not making any comment," said Jesus Christ. "We were aware of the EEOC and were going to go to mediation."

"In response to the first claim that she was fired because she was pregnant this is not true," Jesus said. "We do have teachers employed that are pregnant, two just last year while Jarretta was employed here."

"We request," Christ continued, "that Jarretta withdraw her complaint and consider the testimony of the Lord."
posted by mazola at 11:00 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


After all, Mary had sex with someone who wasn't her husband, and she gave birth to an illegitimate child.

Immaculate Conception anyone?
posted by fixedgear at 11:00 AM on June 27, 2010


Maybe the issue here isn't so much about how she answered the question (the school clearly has a morality code and just because she didn't sign anything that specifically says, "I won't fornicate," doesn't mean a clause in her contract that she did sign spelled out that not following that morality code is a termination offense) but did the school, even a private school, had the right to ask the question in the first place. Would a male teacher who asked for some sort of paternity/compassionate leave for a pregnancy be routinely asked when the sex that led to the child was had?

If not, that's clearly discriminatory. If so, it seems less clear.
posted by quakerjono at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2010


Well, sure, Mary would say that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:01 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Walter: I've always wanted a two-headed goat. Where can I get a subscription?"
-Fringe
posted by clavdivs at 11:02 AM on June 27, 2010


jesus h christ, how crass can you get.
posted by marienbad at 11:02 AM on June 27, 2010


That's not what Immaculate Conception means:

"The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic doctrine, the conception of the Virgin Mary without any stain ("immacula" in Latin) of original sin."
posted by Coatlicue at 11:05 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


But if she had been raped, and then married her rapist, she would still have her job, because that's biblical.
posted by rubah at 11:08 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


wat

how is babby formed?

and all sorts of other useless jokes that express how few words I have in the face of this. Would they have preferred it if she had an abortion?

I understand that in working for that institution she likely was impelled to abide by a certain code, but I fail to understand the reasons for that code (as a lapsed Christian) and in addition am tired of having to defend "my" religion for the stupid shit the people who follow it do.

Also, in 6th grade I was in an algebra class taught by a teacher who got married sometime during the school year. Also sometime during the school year, she gleefully told us students that she was expecting a baby. None of us CARED, except to pitch in and get her a card. We would not have "run the math" and frankly, if she hadn't been married I probably wouldn't have even known.
posted by Night_owl at 11:14 AM on June 27, 2010


I stand corrected. I only lasted four years at Ressurection of Our Lord elementary school, and I have blocked much of it out.
posted by fixedgear at 11:16 AM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think there is probably more to this story than is being reported.
There's fornication, sure, but there is also miscegenation.
About 15% of the students are black (from this.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:20 AM on June 27, 2010


The firing was probably more about miscegenation but fornication was the excuse they could publicly use.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:20 AM on June 27, 2010


This isn't a funtime clubhouse, this is someone's career. If keeping your job as an educator, not a preacher or deacon or suchlike, just a schoolteacher, means you must undergo forced conversion or lose your livelihood, well, something is seriously wrong there.

Apart and aside from that, it's an invasion of the woman's privacy and obscenely cruel to pillory her before the staff and students.

This is why "Right To Work" laws suck. You aren't an employee as much as you are a paid slave, expected to worship and believe as the master does on or off the clock.
Actually, I think that this would be considered sexual discrimination under normal circumstances, since only women get pregnant. But this is a religious institution, so it gets a lot more leeway.
posted by delmoi at 11:23 AM on June 27, 2010


zarq,

Thanks for the link. I had no idea these types of contracts were once so common.
posted by mmmbacon at 11:23 AM on June 27, 2010


From this interview, it seems that the principal was initially upset about the pregnancy prior to finding out that the child was conceived before wedlock. Her's being in an interracial marriage, I'm wondering if there's a supporting case of racial discrimination in her favor. I'm not trying to incite any feelings on raciscm here, just honestly wondering if something else could be going on here, as intolerant people usually have more than a few hangups. The school also seems to prefer putting their caucasian faculty and students in the forefront, however according to ethnic makeup they tend to have a fairly balanced ratio (moreso hispanic to caucasian however) compared to the zip code surrounding them. Again I'm not trying to derail entirely from what actually happened...just something isn't setting right on how the principle handled this from the very start. And part of me feels he might have a chip on his shoulder that's not just about the pre-marital sex, but perhaps the marriage itself. (I mean, isn't it usually more than one thing that ticks off intolerent people?)
posted by samsara at 11:26 AM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


"But this is a religious institution, so it gets a lot more leeway."

That statements like that are true makes me terribly sad. Separation of church and state, my ass.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:39 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I attended a fundamental Baptist college for one year, Reagan was in office, and this type of behavior was ascendant.

After "sleeping" with the star of the tennis team, she looks into my eyes and says, langourously: "You're the first guy I've ever slept with I wasn't engaged to." Praise Jesus.
posted by pianomover at 11:58 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


According to historical Church records, infants born within six months of the wedding were common enough in Puritan New England that they rarely drew comment.

A friend's grandmother once told her, when she was a young girl, "The first baby could come at any time after the wedding. Could be two months, could be two years . . ." I understand she bought it, until shortly after the Talk was had.

Gossiping old hens in Judeo-Christian cultures have been doing this kind of calculation for centuries, and as long as an Honest Woman was made before the birth took place, the matter was considered settled. I think St. Alia's right -- it's a matter of maternity leave. And/or racism. Whenever you hear a Weird News-type story with some sort of outrage like this, there is always a bedrock of systemic reasoning beneath it that causes it to make sense.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:05 PM on June 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Just on topic, there was a college up here in Rockland, NY, I forget which one, they were looking for a Photoshop/Final Cut instructor, specs were exactly in line with my experience and abilities. I figured I'd apply, until I looked at the a document they sent as part of the application package, which demanded a signature, that stated that I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, blah blah blah. It was indeed an employment requirement, not an optional choice. Needless to say, application was never submitted. And I suspect they receive some public funding.

As far as separation of church/state, well, as long as "religious institutions" maintain tax-free status, you can forget all about a rational society - as if this were even possible with human beings. Perhaps at some point in our future evolution, but right now, we're "viruses with shoes", as Bill Hicks would often proclaim.
posted by dbiedny at 12:12 PM on June 27, 2010


To those who this comes as a surprise to: where have you been the last several years when it seems like not a day passes when an NFL or NBA player gets suspended, punished monetarily or sometimes ostracized from the league altogether for conduct off the field? Sure, there is a place for contract terms that forbid a guy who makes his living off of staying healthy from, say, going hang gliding or whatever, but the majority of disciplinary actions are for moral issues, and the league commissioners make a point of citing the need for good role models as justification for the severity of their ruling... and hardly anyone ever questions that.

How is this different? Is it a money thing, that these athletes are rich and we like to see rich people get their comeuppance, whereas this story is about a middle class parent living hand to mouth and now is having her livelihood taken away? I just don't understand how you can justify one but not the other.
posted by squeakyfromme at 12:33 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering if they've ever fired a man for a similar offense.

"Well, son, you did the right thing by marrying the mother of your child, but I'm gonna have to fire you for fornicating... that ain't right. Good luck finding a job, it's tough out there."
posted by ennui.bz at 12:48 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Samsara, your first link is to a school in California, not the Florida school in question, which seems not to have a web site. Nor surprising, given it's size.

I think this was less about God and a little more about not wanting to cover maternity leave.

Could be. Small size does suggest small budgets. But without knowing the parents or the administration, it's kind of hard to say. I can well believe that this really was exactly as it was presented, a hard core stand on hardcore principle. I can well imagine certain kinds of parents questioning the headmaster's commitment if he had let it pass.

Though it seems to have had the opposite affect on at least one family.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:53 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do not think that saying this teacher has no case is blaming the victim.

She signed a contract. She chose to take this job, and no matter how tough the job market, it was still her choice to teach at this very particular institution. She then chose to disregard the morals clause of her contract, and chose to have sex before her marriage.

She got caught and was fired, as her contract stated she would.

I would like to think that if a male teacher's new wife gave birth 8 months after his wedding, he would be similarly dealt with. Anything else would be discriminatory. Now, I'm totally willing to believe that wouldn't happen, and that furthermore this is about maternity leave, but without evidence of that kind of discrimination, she plainly breeched her contract and was terminated for cause.

You don't have to like the reason she was fired for it to be legal, nor do you have to like the institution that hired her for their morals clause to be legal and binding.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:56 PM on June 27, 2010


How is this different?

Now, I'm going to say this based on absolutely no research into what pro athletes get reprimanded/suspended for, but my guess (please correct me if I'm wrong) is that it's not having sex out of wedlock. Isn't the joke that NBA players all have, like, 50 kids? Do they get suspended for that?
posted by phunniemee at 1:04 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, sorry, but where have we heard yet that she was contractually obligated not to fornicate? Is it on paper? Did she sign it? Or is this "contract" something everyone is just assuming was understood when she started her employment?
posted by phunniemee at 1:06 PM on June 27, 2010


Well, what better a way to prove that unwed pregnancy leads to a cycle of unemployment and benefits than by sacking her.

On a related note, an Irish friend assures me that where children are born 6 or 7 months after wedlock community elders often nod sagely and comment that the first born is often born early.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:07 PM on June 27, 2010


"In the story of the woman caught in adultery, (where the Pharisees wanted to stone her) all Jesus said to her was 'Go and sin no more.' "Sounds like a plan to me."

Sounds like a plan to me too but religious nut jubs tend to be a lot less accommodating.

"I'm not convinced the case is as clear-cut in the school's favor as many of the comments here would assume. Employers can't wave their way out of employment law by just saying that they are a religious institution. I'm not certain she has a very strong case, but there is a case there."

In an at will state you can be let go when ever the company wants for just about any reason (it's just the discrimination protected classes that can't be the reason; I don't think "getting pregnant out of wed lock" is a protected class though apparently her lawyer thinks so) or even no reason at all. You come in one morning and the boss says "Fred I'm tired of you taking my parking space at the quik-e-mart during your off time, here's your final pay; don't let the screen door hit you on the ass on the way out."

"You can't fire someone for conceiving a child. I don't care what your wierd invalid contract you made the person sign."

In an at will state yes you can. And yes that is completely fucked up. Americans really, really need better employment protections but they'll probably never get them because that's too much like Socialism.

"She also had a case that her medical privacy was violated under HIPPA by the school telling the whole world about her date of conception and other confidential medical information."

This was my question earlier. If an employer isn't self funding medical benifits are they required to keep this stuff confidential?

"did the school, even a private school, had the right to ask the question in the first place. Would a male teacher who asked for some sort of paternity/compassionate leave for a pregnancy be routinely asked when the sex that led to the child was had? "If not, that's clearly discriminatory. If so, it seems less clear."

These people are professional busy bodies; I don't think it's a stretch that a male teacher would have been under the same scrutiny.

"The firing was probably more about miscegenation but fornication was the excuse they could publicly use."

Wasn't she hired after the marriage?
posted by Mitheral at 1:24 PM on June 27, 2010


squeakyfromme: I don't know about you, but to me there's a pretty big difference between sex out of wedlock and things like assault, rape, murder, etc.
posted by kmz at 1:25 PM on June 27, 2010


Of course I don't agree with this. But it's part of our social contract: I get to teach my kids that god is a fairy tale and we evolved from primates (which you consider immoral), you get to teach your kids that sex before marriage is evil and should be punished (which I consider immoral). If this school didn't exist then the same nutso parents would be preaching to my kids in the public schools.
posted by miyabo at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2010


IndigoJones: Ah, thanks for the correction. The ads did seem a bit off, makes more sense for CA.
posted by samsara at 1:41 PM on June 27, 2010


This is why I find Fundamental Christianity loathsome. Do they investigate men to see what children they have fathered? Do they know if she repented and prayed for forgiveness? They presume to judge, they show no forgiveness, they hate women, they hate sex, and they're a bunch of hypocrites.

I know some people who are Fundamentalist Christians, and who are terrific people, so spare me. It's the institutionalization of narrow-mindedness, intolerance and stupidity I despise.
posted by theora55 at 1:43 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"'The school told the students and their parents why Hamilton had been fired. Disclosing that kind of personal information was a violation of her privacy,'[Hamilton's lawyer Edward] Gay said."

Bastards!
posted by ericb at 1:45 PM on June 27, 2010


so Ms. Hamilton is in an interracial albeit late-ish marriage, is having one of them mulattoes and would have qualified for maternity leave?

i hope she takes the school to the cleaners. it's obvious they're using the excuse of gawd to deny Ms. Hamilton her labor rights.
posted by liza at 1:52 PM on June 27, 2010


"squeakyfromme: I don't know about you, but to me there's a pretty big difference between sex out of wedlock and things like assault, rape, murder, etc."

That's oversimplifying the argument though. Not only are players being disciplined for things that they were never even charged for (ie. Ben Roethlisberger) but even the players that have engaged in more serious crimes like rape and murder (I don't consider assault a dealbreaker if it was essentially minor fisticuffs) are already paying for it through the legal system. There's only one reason for the leagues to step in and impose penalties of their own, and that is exactly the one they always cite: to uphold public image and provide good role models. So yeah, that doesn't really seem any different than this case at all.
posted by squeakyfromme at 1:57 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was probably more about the budget -- paying maternity leave and a temp hire salary, than to do with morals.

I worked for a catholic school where half the staff were nuns. I was the children's librarian and taught remedial reading.

It was deemed all right I wasn't catholic because they couldn't afford to wait for a catholic to fill the position. But I couldn't teach religion class. Fine.

Then when the religion teachers took sick, it was decided I would close the library and teach religion because they couldn't afford a sub.

Then they decided they would stop hiring subs since I was just there. So they would close the library, stick my slower learners with the open court class, and I became the in-house sub to cut costs. I taught every grade K-8, every subject.

It was grueling and the teachers constantly bitched at me because no one knew when the library would close and so schedules were always changing.

But the school was savomg money!

At the end of the year, myself and one other teacher weren't asked back. Upon comparing notes, we were the only ones pregnant. When I pointed out to the Mother Superior/principal that somethimg like that could result in a lawsuit, they hired back the other teacher; she was due in August, while I was due at the end of September.

I was replaced by a parent who worked for a tutition reduction in lieu of a salary.

If they could save on her maternity leave through a morals cause, I'm sure they would.
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:02 PM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thinking about this a bit more: Wouldn't Ms. Hamilton have been the beneficiary of the very same discrimination that she claims led to her termination?

Religious organizations get a free pass on what would be serious violations of equal-opportunity laws, by making it clear during the advertising and application processes that "non-Christians/Muslims/Jews need not apply". Because Ms. Hamilton was a member of the right religious club, her application would have been considered ahead of possibly better-qualified candidates who wouldn't have been able to apply because of their religious beliefs or lack thereof. If a private-sector business tried to do that, they'd have their asses hauled into court, and deservedly so.

Now, though, she's using the same equal-opportunity laws that were allowed to be ignored when she was being hired, and claiming that they should be applied fully when she's being fired.

If that's not the definition of hypocrisy, I don't know what is. She can't have her cake (or her Communion wafer, as the case may be) and eat it too.
posted by deadmessenger at 2:07 PM on June 27, 2010


Case or no case? There's more than just one issue at play here.
"According to the complaint, Hamilton is suing under federal gender discrimination laws, a state marriage discrimination law and for violations of her privacy.

'The school told the students and their parents why Hamilton had been fired. Disclosing that kind of personal information was a violation of her privacy,' Gay said.

... 'The school, despite being a private religiously affiliated institution, is not exempt from federal discrimination laws', Gay said.

'The school is still covered by federal law, in part because they have more than 15 employees,' he said. 'The courts have constantly rejected arguments when such schools say its 'free exercise' and cite the First Amendment. It's different for church employment, but this teacher was performing essentially secular duties.'"*
posted by ericb at 2:11 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Another batshit insane Christian group who thinks they can make whatever rules they want without any recourse from anyone. I hope she wins - at the very least for her violation of privacy.
posted by garnetgirl at 2:23 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure it's plain old blame the victim as much as a reminder that if you hang out with bigots, you shouldn't be surprised if they turn on you. I've got a sister who was an RN for years before she joined up with some looney little church that spends its time condemning people for their behavior. She recently expressed shock that they were so hostile to people with AIDS and so quick to evoke God's will when good people become ill. I can only wonder why she didn't see it earlier. I am sorry this teacher is being punished by losing her job and then being held up to public ridicule but was there really no sign that this could happen?
posted by etaoin at 2:25 PM on June 27, 2010


Man, I wish I had an asteroid for this thread
posted by tehloki at 2:42 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This story is not about what Christianity should be; it is about what Christianity is for too many of those calling themselves Christian. As such, these "Fundamentalist Christians" are in a Race to the Bottom with the "Fundamentalist Muslims", and while the FMs have a clear lead (and in the view of many, already hit Bottom), the FCs are definitely showing signs of catching up.

Of course, you could always see the "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" belief as a convenient way to feel morally superior without BEING morally superior, but that would be a depth of cynicism even I refuse to reach for.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:43 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mitheral: In an at will state you can be let go when ever the company wants for just about any reason (it's just the discrimination protected classes that can't be the reason; I don't think "getting pregnant out of wed lock" is a protected class though apparently her lawyer thinks so) or even no reason at all..

No. In at "at-will" state. An employer can terminate employment for any legal reason. Violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and other laws) is still illegal, including discriminating against women on the basis of pregnancy. The question of this case is whether enforcement of the morality clause in this manner is a bona fide job qualification, or is it a smokescreen to cover an illegal practice of discrimination. At-will doesn't matter here.

In an at will state yes you can.

No, you can't without some pretty important reasons that you are not engaged in sex discrimination that's illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:48 PM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Goddamnit, DarlingBri, read the article, or at least this thread.
She signed a contract. [...] She then chose to disregard the morals clause of her contract, and chose to have sex before her marriage.

She got caught and was fired, as her contract stated she would.

[...] she plainly breeched [sic] her contract and was terminated for cause.

[...] nor do you have to like the institution that hired her for their morals clause to be legal and binding.
“If there was a contract in place that had a specific morality clause, I think that would make a difference,” Treftz said.

Hamilton told MSNBC she never signed a contract that specifically barred her from having premarital sex.
posted by nicwolff at 2:51 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


And some contractual agreements between employers and employees can't be enforced either.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:57 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the school got the HR Manager without sin to draft the letter firing her?
posted by Sebmojo at 3:15 PM on June 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Next time I guess she'll do the smart thing and abort.
posted by empath at 3:23 PM on June 27, 2010


I don't think any business, for any reason, should be ALLOWED to fire anyone from an employment position that continues to exist for any cause not directly related to job performance.

I think there should be very clear and limited rules explaining EXACTLY what constitutes something "directly related to job performance".

In my ideal world, if you fire someone because they're gay? That'd be illegal. Because they posted nude pictures of themselves on the internet? Illegal. Because they're a member of a crazy terrorist cult? Illegal. Because they had premarital sex? Illegal.

In a society where someone's very life can depend on their having a job, firing someone for any reason other than their ability to perform that job itself is, in my opinion, an act of unconscionable immorality.

I expect these principles to become law any day now. Also, flying ponies.
posted by kyrademon at 3:30 PM on June 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


There sure is a lot of contract worship in this thread. Contracts are important, but they aren't sacrosanct. Some rights can't be signed away. And, of course, many have pointed out that there wasn't apparently a clear contract term forbidding sex before marriage.
posted by Mavri at 3:34 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The first three comments are, frankly, insane, pure blame-the-victim bullshit. I am very disappointed.

This isn't a funtime clubhouse, this is someone's career. If keeping your job as an educator, not a preacher or deacon or suchlike, just a schoolteacher, means you must undergo forced conversion or lose your livelihood, well, something is seriously wrong there.

Apart and aside from that, it's an invasion of the woman's privacy and obscenely cruel to pillory her before the staff and students.

This is why "Right To Work" laws suck. You aren't an employee as much as you are a paid slave, expected to worship and believe as the master does on or off the clock.


Invasion of privacy, I'll grant you. But the rest is just a little overwrought, don't you think? Surely, there are other schools that aren't religious she can go out and try to work for.

Someone's *career* can't be expected to be more important than the mission of the employer. Part of working for a religious insitiution is adhering to their code of behavior. She violated it. They have the right to no longer employ her.

Part of teaching is setting a good example. If their particular cult thinks pregnancy is bad, she shouldn't have taken the money.

"Right to Work" laws are laws that say that you can't be fired (or not-hired) for not belonging to a union. You are probably thinking of "at will" employment, and what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If you want to restrict how employers can dismiss employees, don't forget to put the same restrictions on when employees can quit.


In the story of the woman caught in adultery, (where the Pharisees wanted to stone her) all Jesus said to her was "Go and sin no more."

It sounds like that's pretty much exactly what they told her.
posted by gjc at 3:46 PM on June 27, 2010


gjc -- "If you want to restrict how employers can dismiss employees, don't forget to put the same restrictions on when employees can quit."

Why?
posted by kyrademon at 4:06 PM on June 27, 2010


gjc: Surely, there are other schools that aren't religious she can go out and try to work for.

From what I've been reading, the market in K-12 education is pretty shitty across the board. Public education depends on stable property-tax incomes, and the result of the current economic crisis has been deep layoffs, deferred or delayed paychecks, and involuntary furlough days. Private schools are likely hurting as well as fewer families can cover tuition costs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:15 PM on June 27, 2010


what's good for the goose is good for the gander. If you want to restrict how employers can dismiss employees, don't forget to put the same restrictions on when employees can quit.

Well, as long as we're making everything equal for everybody, let's make sure employees can hire and fire employers, and set their employer's salaries and working hours. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right?
posted by oneirodynia at 4:17 PM on June 27, 2010


So, we should all be able to quit at any moment for any reason, but our employers *shouldn't* have that right? (Barring discrimination/illegality.)
posted by gjc at 4:29 PM on June 27, 2010


gjc: So, we should all be able to quit at any moment for any reason, but our employers *shouldn't* have that right? (Barring discrimination/illegality.)

Well, that's the key claim being made here if this case went through the EEOC first.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:37 PM on June 27, 2010


Well ... pretty much, yes, gjc. I mean, you should be able to fire someone for not doing their job, but for anything outside of work? That seems insane to me. So insane that I am having difficulty seeing where you're coming from on this.

In terms of the "fairness" of the practice, the situation of an employer and the situation of an employee are not remotely similar, as oneirodynia succinctly pointed out. Your argument seems similar to me to someone saying, "Well, if employees can form unions, than businesses should be able to form trade cabals and engage in price fixing! It's only fair!" The situations are not the same, even if they appear on the surface vaguely similar, and history and economic theory show that pretty clearly.

To get down to the heart of it, though, I think our fundamental difference may lie with this; you said:

"Someone's *career* can't be expected to be more important than the mission of the employer."

In a sense, that is true, which is why I think someone can be fired for not doing their job. But I think we have a basic disagreement about what the "mission of the employer" is -- or perhaps, what it should be allowed to legally be.

I believe that if an employer hires someone to do a job, their effectiveness at that specific task can and should be the only concern of the employer -- the only way it affects the employer's "mission."

Let us say this person has been hired to teach students X, Y, and Z. Heck, let's say she has also been specifically tasked *not* to instruct them in A, B, and C. She fulfills the "mission" of her employer by doing that job. If she doesn't show up, teaches the wrong things, comes to work drunk -- fine, fire her.

But an employer is only paying for her time on the job. That means they don't have a right to say what she does off of it. I don't care if that teacher is the lead in Slut Christian Teachers In Hell IV - The Sluttening. That is not the employer's concern. THEY'RE NOT PAYING FOR HER TIME OFF OF WORK.

And they shouldn't. You also can't and shouldn't hire someone to work for you 24 hours a day.

If the employer's "mission" is to dictate how someone lives 24/7, they're not an "employer" and what they're looking for isn't "employees". They're a lifestyle dom, and they should be checking Craigslist for interested volunteers.
posted by kyrademon at 4:42 PM on June 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


Or they pay should be a heck of a lot higher.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:46 PM on June 27, 2010


So, we should all be able to quit at any moment for any reason

But we aren't able to. You can't quit to go compete with your employer if you have a non-competition clause, for example. You can't quit to go build a company based upon an invention you made over the weekends because your employment contract includes a clause that says that they own the intellectual property rights to anything you create or invent during your employment by them. I have known people who have actually had their inventions stolen by their employers this way.

Employers use this asymmetrical leverage to wring all kinds of "agreements" out of employees that the employer would never accept themselves. The examples I list above are cases of employers preventing their employees from making a living in some of the ways available to them that have the most potential.
posted by XMLicious at 4:47 PM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can't quit to go compete with your employer if you have a non-competition clause, for example.

Am I completely mistaken or are non-compete clauses routinely held to be unenforceable?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:16 PM on June 27, 2010


"I mean, you should be able to fire someone for not doing their job, but for anything outside of work? That seems insane to me. So insane that I am having difficulty seeing where you're coming from on this."

I think there are going to be situations where outside work activity should be a fireable offence. For example it makes sense for my accountants to fire the worker who was convicted of embezzlement even if they didn't embezzle from their employer. I think it would be fine if an abortion clinic fired an employee picketing the clinic. You probably don't want that serial rapist working at your day care clinic even if they've never shown any sign of paedophilia. Many professional jobs have conduct expectations. The kind of people who feel strongly enough about their religion to found a school for that religion are going to tend to care wether their employees set an appropriate example (or at least not get caught if they don't).
posted by Mitheral at 5:29 PM on June 27, 2010


You can't quit to go compete with your employer if you have a non-competition clause, for example.

Am I completely mistaken or are non-compete clauses routinely held to be unenforceable?


Neither. It strongly depends on where you live. I remember hearing that in California, in the high tech industry, they're pretty much not enforced. I've also heard that in the North-East's biotech corridor, they hold up just fine. [both of these might be false, just the 'received wisdom'].

I can tell you for sure that in Canada they can be enforced, there's a pretty big case where an accountant was restricted from working in the greater Vancouver metropolitan area.

Of course, there's no such thing as the gvma, so the clause failed in that instance. That's why you don't hire Toronto lawyers for your Vancouver firm.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:31 PM on June 27, 2010


Am I completely mistaken or are non-compete clauses routinely held to be unenforceable?

posted by phunniemee at 5:31 PM on June 27, 2010


"The firing was probably more about miscegenation but fornication was the excuse they could publicly use."

Wasn't she hired after the marriage?


Since she says she was pregnant before she got married, that means some fornication was likely involved. Which makes one wonder how they would deal with a woman who got pregnant via IVF before she got married. Are these people seriously trying to be all up in their female employees' lady parts, expecting to find out exactly when and how the conception occurred?
posted by fuse theorem at 6:35 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I understand both sides here, well, the MeFi sides at least: I do think they fired her for a bullshit reason and should be punished. But I also kind of think that she signed on for an authoritarian death cult, and that plenty of people are always giving enough valid criticisms of these insane fundamentalists that you have to be actively ignorant in order to not be aware that they're officious, dogmatic, narrow, inhumane and vicious, and that by working for them, you're helping to advance those values too. It's a bit of But I Never Thought It Would Happen To Me!
posted by klangklangston at 6:51 PM on June 27, 2010


Am I completely mistaken or are non-compete clauses routinely held to be unenforceable?

Even if they are and all you technically have to fear is a lengthy court battle with the involvement of lawyers (gee, is that all?) I have known of employers successfully pressuring employees into turning down job offers with threats based on non-compete clauses.
posted by XMLicious at 7:00 PM on June 27, 2010


Those who argue that she had a contract should also recognize that the employer doesn't get to decide the meaning of the contract. Resoution of contract disputes is a matter for the courts, unless there is a clear arbitration process.
posted by humanfont at 7:26 PM on June 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, we should all be able to quit at any moment for any reason, but our employers *shouldn't* have that right? (Barring discrimination/illegality.)

It's not assumed to be an equal partnership. Employees should be protected against firing for other than performance reasons, or else racism and sexism are merely part of a list of arbitrary reasons for not being able to fire someone.
posted by Brian B. at 7:29 PM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


and that by working for them, you're helping to advance those values too.

This employer is likely arguing that she hindered their values, so it would be unseeming to side with the employer in that case.
posted by Brian B. at 7:39 PM on June 27, 2010


"This employer is likely arguing that she hindered their values, so it would be unseeming to side with the employer in that case."

But until she was fired, she also worked to advance those values.
posted by klangklangston at 7:45 PM on June 27, 2010


I would imagine the fact that the school disseminated personal medical information about the teacher's pregnancy violates any right-to-privacy law out there.

Under HIPAA employers have the right to an individual’s health information if the employer is self-insured or if the employer itself administers its employees’ health care. Otherwise, that information is hands off unless an employee gives consent. I'm pretty sure she didn't give consent to the principal to tell the entire school AND the parents about her pregnancy. That would be a sue-able case right there.

I am appalled that the principal asked when she conceived. That, too seems like a huge privacy violation. Did the bastard also ask his male teachers when they conceived with their wives?

It's going to boil down to the Employer's Handbook. If it turns out there is a clause in there that says no unmarried staff can have sex, she's screwed (no pun intended).

My opinion: this has everything to do with the cost of maternity leave. I would love to know how their health insurance is administered.
posted by Jade5454 at 8:23 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I do have compassion for her, but then again, I think we should try to have compassion even for the worst of the worst. So compassion, yes, but sympathy, no. She was all up for working for viciously discriminatory employers - and knew it (Christians only etc.). She knew they were fundamentalist nutjobs. She was fine with it. Not only that - she was happy to poison young minds with the same evil ideology that permeated this institution. She willingly went into that den of iniquity, and then was shocked - shocked - that they doled out the same kind of iniquity to her. Cry me a river.

Does that make anything these fuckwads did, defensible - of course not. But if you sign up for a cult that says you can't pork unless first some dude in a weird costume gibbers on about imaginary beings while you stand there with your partner - well, it's fucking insane. Why do you expect sanity and decency from practitioners of insanity?

Win, lose or draw, it's an internal quarrel amongst a bunch of monsters. Yeah, yeah, every life is precious etc., but seriously, there is a lot of suffering that I'd rather spend my energy fighting, than this amalgamation of stupid and evil.
posted by VikingSword at 8:58 PM on June 27, 2010


The United States has always had some very weird strictures for its teachers. The Great Brain series, set in Utah just prior to the commencement of the twentieth century, provide a lot of insight into just how serious the various rules for teachers were. I believe one of the stories features a student planting Sen-Sen (to cover up alcohol on someone's breath) in the teacher's home, just to make it look like the teacher has been drinking, so that they might be let go from their position.

Telling the kids is going to cost them big. That one action, regardless of the handbook or contract, will not play well in court, as the school will look like a bunch of mean-spirited busybodies who cannot keep their traps shut in their eagerness to pillory someone. I hope she receives an enormous judgment and the school is forced to raise their fees, with a line item in the bill, each semester, reading "Jarretta Hamilton Mistake: $425.39."

Her big mistake was working for a Christian institution. This is going to be a very unpleasant lesson for her, even if she wins the suit, but she ought to have picked up on it by now: power-seeking Christians can become very scary when someone comes near their sacred whatevers. It's too bad she had to get fired to learn that. Just because you're a Christian does not mean you are safe from other Christians, at all.
posted by adipocere at 9:26 PM on June 27, 2010


You know, none of you know why she worked there. Maybe it was the only place she could get a job. I'm pretty sick of all the guilt by association anti-christian bullshit. As has been pointed out multiple times, this was most likely about not wanting to pay maternity leave and christianity had nothing to do with it.
posted by empath at 10:05 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


But if you sign up for a cult that says you can't pork unless first some dude in a weird costume gibbers on about imaginary beings while you stand there with your partner - well, it's fucking insane.

Seriously -- really? Oh come the fuck on. Marriage has always been about a community of people recognizing the legitimacy and permanency of a relationship, and it's not unique to any particular religion, or religious people at all. Plenty of atheists get married.

I'm all for reasoned criticism of religion, but this is just juvenile.
posted by empath at 10:09 PM on June 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


If for no other reason, empath, Christianity made an excellent cover story. You know, "immoral" and all of that. Even if it was a short-sighted bean-counting decision by someone who didn't want to pay maternity leave, without Christianity, they could not have used premarital sex without an excuse for dismissal.
"Jarretta was asked not to return because of a moral issue that was disregarded, namely fornication, sex outside of marriage. The employment application, which she filled out, clearly states that as a leader before our students we require all teachers to maintain and communicate the values and purpose of our school."
Values? Did I just hear a dog-whistle? Whether it was the precipitating force of just a shallow explanation leading to parading her fornication around to the parents of her students, Christianity is still involved.

Rather than denying it, you could spend your efforts wresting your religion back from the hands of these folks.
posted by adipocere at 10:16 PM on June 27, 2010


I'm an atheist. I'm not interested in defending the fuckwits that fired her, only the disgusting attacks on her character for merely being a Christian.
posted by empath at 10:21 PM on June 27, 2010


Marriage has always been about a community of people recognizing the legitimacy and permanency of a relationship, and it's not unique to any particular religion, or religious people at all. Plenty of atheists get married.

The problem is not the marriage as such, it's that folks think it's quite reasonable that you can't have sex unless you have a marriage ceremony first. That's the religious part. And that's fucking stupid. Go get a courthouse procedure and you're married, with all the recognition that's necessary - legal recognition. If you want to overlay this with a bunch of religious mumbo-jumbo, you're welcome to it, but it's hardly necessary.

I'm all for reasoned criticism of religion, but this is just juvenile.

That is a reasoned criticism of religion. Only it's not juvenile, but controlling of adults legal and consensual sexual conduct. Plenty of atheists may get married, but presumably none point to some stupid book and gibber on about a supernatural being that cares a great deal that you don't put your weenie into your fiancée's vagina. If it sounds stupid, it's only because it is stupid.
posted by VikingSword at 11:22 PM on June 27, 2010


VikingSword, I think our duty to her as a fellow member of the employed class should override the natural instinct toward schadenfreude at a hypocrite undone.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:21 AM on June 28, 2010


I think Pope Guilty said what I was trying to get at. I wish people could separate Christians as people from Christianity as an institution. They're not all the same, and some of them are victims of having been raised in a culture of ignorance and abuse, etc.
posted by empath at 5:31 AM on June 28, 2010



Just on topic, there was a college up here in Rockland, NY, I forget which one, they were looking for a Photoshop/Final Cut instructor, specs were exactly in line with my experience and abilities. I figured I'd apply, until I looked at the a document they sent as part of the application package, which demanded a signature, that stated that I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior, blah blah blah. It was indeed an employment requirement, not an optional choice. Needless to say, application was never submitted. And I suspect they receive some public funding.


Doesn't surprise me one bit. I interviewed for an Americorps Project and during the phone interview they said they were looking for someone "religiously compatible" with their Evangelical Christianity. They also said that overnight guests would not be permitted in the housing provided. Notice they said this all on the phone so it would be harder for me to report them.

Your tax dollars at work.
posted by melissam at 5:50 AM on June 28, 2010


Pope Guilty, I agree - and as I said, it's not like I have no compassion for her, or think that what they did was right. Certainly they were wrong. All I'm saying is that it's one of those times when the victim is unsympathetic. The narrative people feel most comfortable with is the old fashioned morality play of good vs evil. It's not so simple in life, most of the time. I thought it was pretty well covered in the thread, that her employers are asshats. Regardless, she is a victim nonetheless, and that's the bottom line.
posted by VikingSword at 8:45 AM on June 28, 2010


it appears to me that considering sex, by a betrothed couple that occurs three weeks before a 21st century wedding ceremony, to be outside of marriage is a rather flagrant interpretive stretch.

What part of "outside" is confusing you? Seriously, I can understand disagreeing with the doctrine and not thinking there's anything wrong with sex outside of marriage. And I can understand the position that the school's actions here were bad. But I don't understand at all the position that sex between two people who are not married is not sex outside of marriage - let alone the position that to call sex between two unmarried people "outside of marriage" is "a rather flagrant interpretive stretch."

Do you just not understand what the words "inside" and "outside" mean?
posted by The World Famous at 10:59 AM on June 28, 2010


No, it's because I do understand that "marriage", "wedding ceremony", and "betrothal" are different concepts. I don't think you realize how much of your own personal idea of marriage you're projecting into this if you really can't imagine anyone disagreeing with you, even people for whom marriage is a religious rather than a civil or cultural thing. The sense in which this is a flagrant interpretive stretch when you take into account what it actually says in the Bible is the same sense that proposing something like "Marriage is between one man and one woman!" as a universal Christian definition of marriage is a flagrant interpretive stretch, when there are marriages right there in the Bible that don't fit that - ones between one man and several women, that is.

The school is listed in directories as being of no specific denomination, so even in the unlikely event that there's some conduct guideline somewhere which specifically objects to pre-marital sex amongst staff and not just minors / students Hamilton would be well within her rights to have her own definitions of "pre-marital sex" and "marriage", particularly if they're Biblically-based definitions.

As I mentioned above^ under Mosaic law people could be punished for adultery at the point when they'd only been betrothed and the wedding ceremony hadn't happened yet. I also read (though I wasn't able to track down the specific source in the Torah / Old Testament) that of three specified methods for initiating a betrothal / erusin one of them was for the groom to declare his intentions to witnesses and say "I'm going to have sex with her." and then for the couple to go off and have sex... all well before the actual wedding ceremony. Rabbis from the Babylonian times down to the Middle Ages and later wanted to prevent this from happening and prescribed that a man should be flogged for becoming betrothed this way outside of a levirate marriage^ but they could not outright prohibit it or deny the validity of the betrothal because this approach was halakhically rooted in the Torah.

So during at least some part of Judeo-Christian history the period after the betrothal but before the wedding ceremony was regarded as at least partly, if not fully, inside the marriage, even for purposes related to sex. I would say that Hamilton and her husband considered the sex which conceived their first child three weeks before their wedding ceremony to be within their marriage and that no one in the rest of a non-denominational Christian community is in a really good position to disagree with that. Specifically, I would say that if it was in any way appropriate for random people on the internet to be theologically evaluating a married couple's private individual sex acts, which it isn't.

(But furthermore, theologically, Christians do all kinds of funky things with time anyways. For example Catholic doctrine as well as I believe the doctrines of some other sects insist that the salvation of everyone throughout time has occurred through the vehicle of Jesus Christ based upon things like John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. So i.e. Moses's salvation from sin and hence his admission to Heaven instrumentally happened through Christ who wasn't born until more than a thousand years after Moses's death.

Hence I would think that even if a couple had sex before their betrothal you could probably construct a theological argument that the marriage, as something which God made, exists throughout time; so that even sex, between two people destined to be married, which is before both the betrothal ceremony and the wedding ceremony is not outside of marriage; and that therefore the prohibitions against sex outside of marriage are referring to adultery or sex with someone whom you do not intend to marry (and that this is the whole reason why the Bible in actuality says nothing at all about premarital sex.) Further support for marriages existing from the beginning of time in Matthew 19: ...he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife... ...What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Christians aren't a monolithic group. Due to various ambiguities and contradictions in the Bible even someone who wants to be a Biblical Fundamentalist inevitably has to get pretty sloppy at some points and start interpreting or interpolating, no matter what they might say when they start talking about the Bible being the "literal" Word of God. That's one reason why there are so many different sects of Christianity and it's why I think early in history the Roman Church just gave up and asserted that they had special authority granted through apostolic succession and were being continuously guided by the Holy Spirit, so that they could establish doctrine without it being overruled with arguments out of the Bible.)
posted by XMLicious at 5:30 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


empath: this was most likely about not wanting to pay maternity leave and christianity had nothing to do with it.

As long as Christians pay lip service to that guy Jesus' famous quote, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," can't it be about both?
posted by contessa at 9:44 PM on June 28, 2010


Ah. So it was all just one big misunderstanding. Thanks for clearing that up.
posted by The World Famous at 5:55 PM on June 29, 2010


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