CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio woman who says a religious-based community organization fired her after she told them she was pregnant sued the organization Tuesday, charging sex and pregnancy discrimination.
The American Civil Liberties Union and its Ohio affiliate filed the federal lawsuit in Dayton against Inside Out and its director. The lawsuit filed on behalf of Jennifer Maudlin of Springfield in southwest Ohio alleges that the organization fired the single mother of two in September 2012 from her job as a cook after she told officials she was pregnant.
The lawsuit charges that the Springfield organization violated federal and state laws prohibiting sex and pregnancy discrimination and employment discrimination. It also alleges a pattern of hostile treatment toward other unmarried women who became pregnant while working at the organization.
Messages seeking comment were left at Inside Out on Tuesday. A woman answering the phone said the director, William Stout, was out of town. Stout has said previously that Maudlin quit voluntarily and was not fired and that Inside Out has not discriminated against any pregnant employee.
Maudlin worked at Inside Out between 2008 and 2012 and had no ministerial duties, the suit says.
“I was a good worker who was just trying to support my family,” she said in an ACLU news release.
Maudlin is seeking more than $500,000 in damages and back pay, and a court order prohibiting the organization from unfair discrimination. Her attorney, Freda Levenson, who is working with the ACLU to represent Maudlin, said Inside Out already knew Maudlin was unmarried and had another child when she got pregnant again. The lawsuit said the organization also knew Maudlin had given birth to another child who had died.
“Inside Out discriminates against pregnant women,” Levenson said. “It treats men differently from women and pregnant women differently from those who are not pregnant.”
Inside Out’s website says it is a Christian organization that works on “creating positive change” through Jesus. The group apparently works with at-risk youth, serves meals, and offers child care.