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School Dismisses Unmarried, Pregnant Teacher

Court rules that it did not violate federal law.

Key point. Under federal law, and the corresponding laws of some states, religious organizations have the right to discriminate in employment decisions on the basis of the religious affiliation of applicants.
Key point. Churches and religious schools can discriminate against employees on the basis of religion, but they must be able to demonstrate that religion is not a pretext of discriminating against a protected group of workers. If the school only dismissed female workers who engaged in sex outside of marriage, the religious exemption would not apply.

A federal appeals court ruled that a church—operated preschool did not violate federal law when it dismissed an unmarried, pregnant preschool teacher. The school, which was affiliated with the Church of Christ, expects that its teachers will adhere to its religious tenets. All teachers are required to be Christians, and ...

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  • March 3, 1997