Scenario: Amy is a receptionist for Judgment Day Church. The Church fires Amy after it learns that she had an elective abortion. The termination notice states that Amy is being terminated for violating a pledge she signed at the time she was hired stating she would not engage in immoral conduct that is contrary to Church teachings.
Which of the following statements is correct?
A. Amy may have a claim against the Church for invasion of her Constitutional right to privacy.
B. Amy may have a claim against the Church for pregnancy discrimination.
C. Amy does not have a claim against the Church for discrimination because Church employees are exempt from discrimination claims under the Ministerial Exception created by the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
D. Amy does not have a claim against the Church because the alleged misconduct occurred outside regular working hours.
The correct answer is B. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy and “related medical conditions.” The Act has been broadly applied by the EEOC and some courts to cover not only pregnancy, but also a woman’s personal reproductive health care decisions such as birth control, sterilization, and abortion. Although the issue has not been addressed in the Eleventh Circuit, some courts in other jurisdictions have found that discharging an employee on the basis of having an abortion amounts to pregnancy discrimination.
The other statements are incorrect. Amy’s constitutional right to privacy is not implicated because the Church is not a public employer. The Church cannot rely on the “Ministerial Exception” to the antidiscrimination statutes because Amy’s job as a receptionist does not involve primarily ministerial duties. The issue of whether the “misconduct” occurred during working hours is not relevant.