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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20393
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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My son is currently employed by a small, private Christian

Customer Question

My son is currently employed by a small, private Christian college. He has been told in order to keep his job that he either has to move out of his condo, which he shares with his girlfriend, or that he has to be married, not engaged but married.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He currently serves as the assistant baseball coach. When the head coach was terminated, he was told he could apply for the position and was actually named as the Interim Head Coach. After receiving resumes, the AD indicated that in addition to him, 3 other coaches were selected for interviews and in the overall process he was considered Candidate #3. After the first candidates no longer wanted to be considered, they brought in Candidate #4 and named him as the new head coach. Out of the 4 candidates, my son was the only one who was not granted a personal interview with the President, citing reasons that if the President found out he was living with his girlfriend, would be terminated on the spot.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello,Thank you for the information and your question. Although some States include "marital status" as a protected class under employment discrimination laws, NC does not. Additionally, Federal law does not protect employees based on their marital status. In this case, even if there were such a law, I would venture a guess that the employer would try to use their Constitutional religious rights as a bona fide occupational qualification as a defense. Not sure that would work for them, but it is what they would try to use, saying that because they are a private Christian College this edict is what their religion requires. But, in any event, that is not really going to be an issue since there is no law protecting your son based on marital status. That said, if your son were to be let go because he did not comply with the direction from his employer, he could try to find a local employment law attorney who might try to use "invasion of privacy" as a tool for challenging the termination. That would not be something that has had that much success and is fairly unusual, but it would be the only issue that he might hang his hat on since there is no other favorable law that would protect him. This assumes that they aren't treating him differently for some other impermissible reason such as his gender, race, national origin, age (over 40), religion, disability, military status, etc. Please feel free to ask for clarification, I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
But aren't you technically saying that they are treating him differently because of different religious beliefs. Also the school's handbook does not say couples living together have to be married?
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. I can't make that conclusion, that is only for the EEOC and the courts to say. But, as I mentioned, even if he had a firmly and long held religious belief that supports living with someone who he is not married to, the employer will use their BFOQ argument since they are a Christian school. I agree that this is not right from an ethical viewpoint, but I can only try to explain what the current law is. I would agree that this places his ethical and moral beliefs below that of the employer, but the Supreme Court, in supporting employers like Hobby Lobby who refuse to pay for birth control, have done just that by allowing the employer's "religious" beliefs to trump the ethical and moral beliefs of their employees. A ridiculous result, but a legal one nonetheless. But, he is certainly allowed to file a complaint with the EEOC and see where it goes. As mentioned, he probably has a stronger argument with invasion of privacy. It doesn't matter if the handbook says that or not, as long as they aren't treating him differently than they would treat any other employee for one of those enumerated reasons I mentioned.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello again,
I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any further follow up questions for me from the answer I provided to you on the 17th. For some unknown reason, the Experts are not always getting replies or ratings (in the pop up box for this question, which is how we get credit (paid) for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator.
In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed. You can bookmark my page at:
Thank you.