Saturday, June 30, 2012

Eleventh Circuit Allows Pregnancy Discrimination Suit to Continue in Florida

Eleventh Circuit Allows Pregnancy Discrimination Suit to Continue in Florida 
On May 16, 2012, the Eleventh Circuit reversed a District Court's award of summary judgment previously entered in favor of the Southland Christian School, Inc. ("Southland").  In Hamilton v. Southland Christian Sch., Inc., Case No. 11-13696, Plaintiff, Jarretta Hamilton, sued Southland after she was fired.  Plaintiff claimed that Southland fired her "because she had sinned by engaging in premarital sex and, as John Ennis put it, 'there are consequences for disobeying the word of God.'"  The District Court held that Plaintiff was unable to establish a prima facie case of pregnancy discrimination because she failed to produce evidence of a nonpregnant comparator who was treated differently by Southland.

On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the summary judgment award and remanded the case to the District Court.  In the opinion, the Court noted that Plaintiff "presented evidence that, in making the decision to fire her, Southland was more concerned about her pregnancy and her request to take maternity leave than about her admission that she had premarital sex."  Plaintiff also testified at deposition that Southland was concerned about her maternity leave request.  Ultimately, the Court held that Plaintiff "established a genuine issue of material fact about the reason that Southland fired her."

The Court's opinion is available at the following link: Hamilton.

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