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Pregnant professor ordered to marry or dump her boyfriend

Pregnant professor ordered to marry or dump her boyfriend

Back in 2015, Coty Richardson, above, was sacked by administrators at a small evangelical Christian college in Oregon after she refused their demand to marry or dump her partner.

But this week a federal judge ruled that Northwest Christian University, a private, 700-student school in Eugene, had illegally discriminated against Richardson, who had been an assistant professor teaching biomechanics, human kinetics, nutrition and other science courses. She had been on the faculty since 2011.

Judge Ann Aiken wrote in her 33-page opinion and order:

This is the unusual employment discrimination case in which the facts are largely undisputed. At its heart, this lawsuit is about what happens when an employment policy based on an employer’s sincerely held religious belief conflicts with an employee’s rights under federal and state discrimination laws.

In late July 2015, Northwest Christian administrators fired Richardson via a letter from Dennis Lindsay, the Vice President for Academic Affairs. According to the lawsuit, the letter stated that:

Sexual relations outside of marriage is contrary to the university’s core values.

In a previous missive, Lindsay explained that “having a child out of wedlock while still continuing a relationship with the father” sets “a bad example” for the fully grown, adult students who attend Northwest Christian.

Richardson, now 37, informed officials at Northwest Christian of her pregnancy in the spring of 2015.

School officials told her she had to marry the father right away or else dump the unborn child’s father and declare the pregnancy an error, the lawsuit contended.

Richardson, already a mother of two, and the unidentified boyfriend had been together for 12 years at the time.

She chose neither alternative offered by school officials, she said. Instead, she asked for personal privacy.

When she filed her lawsuit, Richardson alleged that Northwest Christian has not fired male employees who have fathered children out of wedlock.

The summary judgment in Richardson’s favour on the marital status discrimination claim rejects Northwest Christian’s claim that the school is immune to employment discrimination claims. In a nutshell, the court ruled, Northwest Christian cannot discriminate any more than any other institution unless the hiring and firing is specifically related to ministers.

Judge Aiken decreed:

First, plaintiff’s title, assistant professor of exercise science, was secular. Second, plaintiff did not undergo any specialised religious training before assuming her position. Third, although there is ample evidence plaintiff held herself out as a Christian, there is no evidence she held herself out as a minister.

Richardson, Aiken noted:

Was expected to integrate her Christianity into her teaching and demonstrate a maturing Christian faith. But any religious function was wholly secondary to her secular role.

The judge ruled that a jury will have to decide several of Richardson’s other claims against Northwest Christian. There will also be a trial over damages. Richardson originally sought $650,000 for lost wages and for suffering discrimination.

The ex-professor holds a master’s degree from A T Still University, an osteopathic medical school in Missouri, and a bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University.

After she was fired, she had difficulty finding work commensurate with her education.

Northwest Christian University President Joseph Womack told Inside Higher Ed that the school does not yet have a public comment concerning the summary judgment decision.

Womack says on the college website:

I believe the best of what we do is manifest through a collegiate atmosphere that is transformative in experience, rigorous in study, and reverent in posture; an environment where students are encouraged to passionately seek God’s call on their lives and endowed with the knowledge, experiences, skills, and character to answer that call successfully.

Joseph Womack

Daniel Kalish, Richardson’s lawyer, suggested to Inside Higher Ed that the judge’s ruling means that religious schools “don’t get a free pass” to engage in employment discrimination.

According to the Northwest Christian student handbook:

The university expects that non-married students will not engage in sexual intercourse.

Spending the night in a dorm room inhabited by a member of the opposite sex is not allowed. Additionally, alcohol and tobacco are forbidden on campus. “Mooning, ‘streaking’ and public urination” are verboten. “Prolonged displays of physical affection” are “not considered appropriate.” And absolutely no pornography of any kind.

The law firm representing Richardson has created a petition asking Northwest Christian University to reinstate Richardson as a professor. It says:

Tell NCU it’s NOT OK to fire a woman for being pregnant!

72 responses to “Pregnant professor ordered to marry or dump her boyfriend”

  1. Daz says:

    Those who complain overmuch about “profanities” are, to my mind, mistakenly concentrating too much on the form of a message and far too little on the important aspect; the meaning of the message. Communicating what we mean is, after all, the purpose of language. Provided the meaning is clear, the form is irrelevant.

    We are all adults. Most adults, of all levels of educational and intellectual achievement, swear as a part of their normal conversation. Get used to it or ignore it.

  2. Tony says:

    I complain about the use of abusive language not because I aspire to be some kind of Comstockian censor. I hold no truck with censorship and would not ask Barry Duke to censor anybody. That kind of free speech suppression more appropriately belongs to the Mary Whitehouses of this world. What I do regret is the use of abusive ad hominem attacks that don’t add anything to the argument in question and merely serve to create bad feelings amongst the parties to the discussion. So I would have no objection for e.g. Stephen to let me have a string of 50 swear words. I might even learn a few new ones, but I would just have to ask: and your point is……?

  3. Daz says:

    Yeah, I do agree that there should actually be a point being made. Otherwise it’s just childish name-calling. But Stephen (as opposed to Kevin I. Slaughter) was making a point at the beginning of this rather tiresome argument. That Stephen had mistaken Trevor’s meaning makes it unfortunate, but Stephen thought he was replying to an extremely monstrous proposition, and, allowing for what he thought he was replying to, his response was appropriate to the anger he felt.

  4. Michael Organ says:

    @Daz
    I agree with your sentiment, however it needs to be understood that those like Stephen have no interest in open and free discussion, as so many on the net, when they are out of their depth they turn to bullying. As they cannot do it physically they do it verbally.

    People have to understand the destructive and harmful effect that such behaviour has on others. There have been suicides because of those like Stephen. He is not a simple nuisance he is a danger and we have to stand up to him and his kind for the sake of those that cannot. To use his disability to defend that is objectionable for I share that condition. No excuse, no matter what is acceptable. I would say that as a disabled person Stephen has responsibility to be part of the solution not part of the problem.

    Remember that if he does it here with a more mature community then he will do it in forums where he may actually be talking to children and young people who are less equipped to withstand his abuse.
    I would love it if those like Stephen could be ignored by those he abuses but in reality it’s the wild west and Stephen has a gun and he is not inclined to show restraint. So we have to disarm him and if that’s ban him so be it.

  5. Daz says:

    “I agree with your sentiment, however it needs to be understood that those like Stephen have no interest in open and free discussion”

    Really? Long experience of Stephen’s comments—in other words observation, rather than extrapolation—would seem to show that you are talking shit.

    People get angry now and again. It happens. Fucking drop it will you, and stop with the amateur psychoanalysing.

  6. Stephen Mynett says:

    Michael, your comments are pathetic, you have decided you know a considerable about disability issues because you have recently lost a leg. As I said before I got lucky employment-wise but many of those I have helped or tried to help did not, they were discriminated against purely because of the way they looked or spoke.

    To say you have experience of disability issues is a joke if, as you say, you have recently become disabled. I am talking about people born with a disability who have had a life of being considered second rate, one who springs to mind is a brilliant mathematician who was generally considered stupid because of his cerebral palsy. It was not until the age of the internet that he found regular work that came close to matching his level of intelligence because he could hide his condition when talking to prospective clients, some of whom were very surprised when they eventually met. There are many similar stories along these lines.

    How many times have you had a complete stranger look at you, note your wheelchair, crutches or whatever prosthesis and say something like “Do you ever work.” Luckily that attitude has diminished greatly but I still hear it from people, either as an insult to others or from disabled people recounting experiences.

    I do not consider you to be kith, only those who have suffered discrimination from day one, you are ignoring basic realities and labelling people without evidence.

    Daz is correct on many things, but he is a good blogger and has written well on many topics. You should give up your amateur and pseudo psychoanalysing. You are the bully because you seem to refuse to accept others have been treated badly or believe their experiences. NB: I am talking about other disabled people not myself.

    I may have mistaken Trevor Comments, although I still think it was a clumsy post but have a lifetime of experiences, not many months short of yours, of seeing disabled people treated like shit. Did you go to a special school because for a long time disabled were not always considered good enough to have a main stream education, have you been regularly asked to justify yourself to complete strangers you have not even tried to engage with or been called a scrounger simply because of the way you look or speak. These are some of the sad realities many disabled have had to put up with and, depending on the society they live in still have to put up with to varying degrees.

    You remind me of the “wise” censors at the BBC who banned a brilliant Ian Dury song because they completely failed to see its true meaning yet were forced to broadcast it years later when it was used in the opening ceremony of the London Paralympics because, eventually, the right people were asked about what was wanted or needed.

    Ian Dury knew, as many of us do, that reasoned argument is often a waste of time with certain people and we have to shout and when I still do see decent but disabled people being vilified will do so.

  7. Daz says:

    “How many times have you had a complete stranger look at you, note your wheelchair, crutches or whatever prosthesis and say something like “Do you ever work.” Luckily that attitude has diminished greatly but I still hear it from people, either as an insult to others or from disabled people recounting experiences. “

    If there’s any silver lining to be found in the governmental persecution of disabled people, it’s that it has drastically heightened ordinary people’s awareness of the problems they face. (Which isn’t a helluva lot of comfort to those being driven to suicide mind.)

    There will always be idiots who don’t get it though, often spurred on by the gutter press. Even I’ve had “scrounger” shouted at me a few times on the assumption, I assume, that I’m faking in order to claim benefits, and I’m not even disabled—I merely use a walking stick now and again ’cause of a bad leg.

    And there are some songs which should never be mentioned without being linked.

  8. Stephen Mynett says:

    Daz, another I really hate, especially as it is nearly always directed at young children is the “god must have a special purpose for you in mind,” or variations on that. Still nothing like a religionist to make a situation worse.

  9. Michael Organ says:

    @Stephen Mynett
    Tell me Stephen is there anything in this life you don’t hate. Is there anyone you don’t feel you have to insult. Is your life so empty and bitter you have decided everyone is against you.

    Remember this is the internet no one knows you are disabled unless you choose to highlight it. You choose to even it is not relevant. The relevance here was your potty mouth and no amount of disability is an excuse for that.
    Learn to interact with others without using the lens of your disability to judge those you do not know.
    A base person is a base person.

    You have now decided to recruit Daz to support your profanity thus showing your immaturity.
    Stop it you are really making yourself look pathetic and childish.

  10. Daz says:

    I’ve been using profanities since I was a school-child. I need no “recruiting,” but thank you for assuming that I’m easily-led and have no mind of my own. Does wonders for my opinion of you, that does. And frankly, your objections to it are looking more and more like prudishness and snobbery.

  11. Daz says:

    And this…

    “Tell me Stephen is there anything in this life you don’t hate. Is there anyone you don’t feel you have to insult. Is your life so empty and bitter you have decided everyone is against you.”

    Is a pile of that stuff usually found just to the south of a north-facing bull.

    That utterance which Stephen points out is a horrible thing to say to a child. No matter how good your intention, if you tell a disabled child that God made them disabled on purpose, the alleged reason for God’s action matters nothing. The message the child gets is that God wanted them not to be able to play football with the other kids, or ride a bicycle, or talk properly, or whatever. And damn right, that’s hateful.

    Has your dislike of Stephen become so important to you that you are now willing to justify hateful things in order to take a pop at him? Christ, who was it here who was calling people immature? Grow. The. Fuck. Up.

  12. remigius says:

    Can I play too?

    I had to have my whole body surgically removed after a tragic trampoline / ceiling fan incident. I exist merely as a conscious stream of pure intellect flowing through the internet – yet I don’t consider myself disabled. Quite the opposite – I feel empowered. Remigius v2.0.

    The rest of you fuckers can kiss my ethereal arse.

    Am I doing it right?

  13. Michael Organ says:

    @Daz
    Now you join him in profanity and bullying oh dear
    Stephen luxuriates in his condition. He is not unique but wants to blame the world for his situation.
    Personally I don’t think Stephen cares at all for other people so wrapped up is he in his own personal tragedy. In my experience those that truly care for others don’t make a big issue of their problems..
    Before I had to retire I was an area manager for a telecoms company. The customers we had the biggest problems with were mainly disabled. It’s a terrible thing to say but never the less its true. We had so many bad situations including threats of violence and even on one occasion when one of my engineers was threatened with a machete that we had to tell two customers we would no longer attend them unless the police or council attended with us. I am only too aware of how much frustration and anger some disabled people have. You may not realise this but I do. But I can also tell you of the many disabled people who we attended that were extremely nice and thankful.
    The problem with Stephen and now you is that you jump to conclusions and get offended at absolutely nothing. I can only conclude you need to find a reason to be angry.
    I am in no doubt that religious people say things which are hurtful and ignorant and never said otherwise so why then make a big deal of educating me. I assure you as an Anti-Thiest I object to that kind of false sympathy.
    Get off that high horse stop reading things between lines that isn’t there and above all if you want be regarded as a grown up stop using bad language.
    Oh and you could do with a little growing up it seems.

  14. Michael Organ says:

    @Daz
    I have only just read this

    “I’ve been using profanities since I was a school-child. I need no “recruiting,” but thank you for assuming that I’m easily-led and have no mind of my own. Does wonders for my opinion of you, that does. And frankly, your objections to it are looking more and more like prudishness and snobbery.”

    Please tell me when I said you were easily led. I said no such thing. I never even insinuated it. I mealy admonished Stephen for attempting to make you an ally and it seem from your words now he has indeed succeeded.

    As for claiming to have been using profane language since you were at school that says a lot about you as a person.
    If my objection sounds prudish and snobbish then it seems that in your eyes for a society to break free of both the only way is to debase it. Not a society I want to live in so you are welcome to it.

  15. Daz says:

    remigius:

    “The rest of you fuckers can kiss my ethereal arse.”

    Umm? Is this at all possible? Surely there can be no meaningful contact between an ethereal arse and a pair of ethereal lips? I demand that research be done by people wielding exciting-looking boxes of electronics with lots of dials and strangely-shaped antennae, that reams of gobbledegook-filled reports be written, and that meaningless graphs with ambiguously labelled axes be produced!

    [See also: How can a god who is “outside space and time” affect things which are inside space and time?]

    ———————————————————————–

    Michael Organ:

    “Now you join him in profanity and bullying oh dear”

    You would seem to have either a very thin skin or a very strange definition of “bullying.” I have no power over you. I cannot harm you or censor you, have not even insulted you to any great degree and have not threatened you.

    “I am in no doubt that religious people say things which are hurtful and ignorant”

    And yet when Stephen points this out as something to be hated, you talk about his hatred as if it were irrational and self-centred. Again, very strange.

    “Please tell me when I said you were easily led.”

    Well I’d have to be, wouldn’t I, if all it took to “recruit” me was a few comments on an internet forum, none of which even so much as hinted that he was asking me to follow his lead. Odd, isn’t it, how a person, such as yourself, who is so damned concerned with politeness in conversation, can be so very very rude and yet define their rudeness as politeness, merely because they avoided using a few words.

    In what way does the use of a few words which can express anything from extreme anger to extreme joy, from fist-bumping solidarity with a position to extreme dislike of it, or from self-reproach to condemnation of others, “debase” the language? On the contrary, I’d say that we should be thankful for the versatility of a relative handful of words which are able to add mood, tone and emphasis so very easily.

  16. Michael Organ says:

    @Baz
    Bullying is behaviour designed to intimidate or physically threaten another. Profane language is a tool of intimidation. What part of that confuses you

    As I said before, Stephen sees everything through the lens of his disability so it’s not just hate, it hate driven by resentment.

    I did not say he recruited you I said he tried to. You confirmed that recruitment yourself by coming to his rescue. QED

    I never said debase the language I said debase the society.
    It’s amazing how you can read a short statement and make so many incorrect assumptions whilst misreading most of it then you take the time to defend your erroneous viewpoint.

    I have no problem defending my views or words but I cannot defend accusations of comments I never made or your interpretation of what you perceived between the lines. Sorry I cannot be in your mind so I just don’t know what the problem is between you reading my comment and you understanding something else.

    If you are going to accuse me of something please can you make sure I am guilty of it first and it’s not just your imagination.

    Oh and I will defend myself because to not do so allows you and Stephen to succeed with your bullying attack and that’s not something I have ever done and never will.

  17. remigius says:

    “[See also: How can a god who is “outside space and time” affect things which are inside space and time?]”

    Simples – it can’t. The existence of a deity that is outside of space and time was conclusively disproved by a very, very odd wise man on the internets several years ago.

    https://theedixieflatline.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/on-free-will-and-prophecy/#comment-12075

    It was also conclusively ignored by all concerned. Ho hum.

  18. Daz says:

    Remigius, you are correct and I abase myself before you. Or possibly behind, given the kissing of ethereal arses etc etc.

    —————————————————
    Michael Organ:

    “Bullying is behaviour designed to intimidate or physically threaten another. Profane language is a tool of intimidation. What part of that confuses you”

    Profane language can indeed be a tool of intimidation. Your mistake is in thinking that that is all it is used for. Try this: An axe is a tool to used split heads open. This is undeniably true, but would you say that it’s an accurate and honest description of the function of an axe?

    “As I said before, Stephen sees everything through the lens of his disability so it’s not just hate, it hate driven by resentment.”

    From whence did this mind-reading ability of yours come? Is it innate or can it be learned? Does thought-transference obey the inverse square law, or does the signal weaken over distance? Is it limited to the speed of light? What is the mechanism of transference? Enquiring minds wish to know these things?

    “I did not say he recruited you I said he tried to. You confirmed that recruitment yourself by coming to his rescue. QED”

    So, he tried to recruit me by, erm, not in any way trying to recruit me, and he was successful in this attempt; which leads to the conclusion that I must be extremely easily led. I’m not sure why you think merely rephrasing your claim makes it any less insulting. What you are doing here is gaslighting; trying to persuade me to reject reality as false in order to confuse and manipulate me. Ironically, this is a tool used exclusively by bullies.

    “I never said debase the language I said debase the society.”

    You are right. I apologise. Still an’ all, my question makes perfect sense if we merely substitute the one word for the other.

  19. remigius says:

    “Does thought-transference obey the inverse square law, or does the signal weaken over distance?”

    Surely, that’s the same thing. The further from the point of origin the lesser the intensity. And vice verse.

  20. Daz says:

    Aye. I suck at editing; also at typing. I could probably get a job at the Grauniad.

    (Please read as “or does the signal not weaken over distance.”)

  21. Paul says:

    Can we go to another thread where there is something good to criticise. Please.
    Fuck and Amen.

  22. remigius says:

    Why would you want to criticise something good?

    Surely it’s better to save our criticism for the bad, the wrong, and the downright stoopid.