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Michigan woman claims wrongful termination and discrimination

A former InterVarsity Christian Fellowship employee is suing for wrongful termination based on discrimination. The Michigan woman believes that the evangelical campus ministry discriminated against her based on her gender and unfairly fired her because of her divorce. The woman has filed a wrongful termination suit with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan seeking unspecified damages.

The woman worked for InterVarsity as a spiritual director in Grand Rapids for seven years, from 2004 until she was fired in December 2011. In early 2011, the woman informed her supervisors that she and her husband were contemplating getting a divorce, as company policy required through its Separation and Divorcing Staff Policy, but she was placed on paid leave due to her announcement. Through the divorce process, she claims that she followed all company procedures, yet once the divorce was finalized, she was fired for not saving her marriage.

Evangelicals vary on the issue of divorce, but generally the Christian faith does not condone divorce. InterVarsity argues that since it is a religious organization, it has the right to use faith-based criteria to make hiring decisions through the First Amendment. However, two male coworkers were apparently able to keep their jobs after divorcing and even remarrying while the woman was not.

Despite InterVarsity's claims that their actions were legal, the woman is still pursuing the lawsuit, and she is seeking unspecified damages. The woman believes that she was discriminated against based on her gender, and she feels that she was wrongfully discharged from her job because of her divorce. Any Michigan employee who feels that he or she is a victim of wrongful termination would benefit by exploring all the legal options in order to make the best decisions for his or her specific case.

Source: The Washington Post, Woman sues InterVarsity over firing after her divorce, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Oct. 16, 2013

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