EUGENE, Ore.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--HKM Employment Attorneys representing Coty Richardson, former Assistant Professor of Exercise Science at Northwest Christian University in Eugene, Oregon, has sued the small Christian University for pregnancy discrimination, marital status discrimination, gender discrimination, and wrongful termination.
The lawsuit (Lane County Circuit Court Docket No. 15CV20442) states that she was an excellent instructor, loved by her students, respected by her peers, and received consistent positive reviews as well as a recent promotion. But according to the lawsuit, after Professor Richardson became pregnant with her partner, the University gave her an ultimatum: She had to marry him immediately or proclaim the pregnancy was a mistake, dissociate from the father, and raise the child as a single mother. The complaint states that Dr. Dennis Lindsay, NCU’s Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, told her that having a child out of wedlock while still continuing a relationship with the father was inconsistent with the University’s core values and mission and set a “bad example” for the students. The lawsuit says that when Professor Richardson refused the University’s demands and asked for privacy, she was summarily fired.
“My partner and I love each other very much and we intend to have the child, love it, and raise it together,” said Professor Richardson. “I do not want to break up with him, and we hope to marry in the near future.”
Professor Richardson is represented by Jason Rittereiser and Dan Kalish of HKM Employment Attorneys. “This is blatant pregnancy and marital status discrimination,” said Rittereiser. “The University should have supported her in her pregnancy, but instead demeaned her life choices and made unreasonable and inappropriate demands on her personal life. Although NCU is a Christian University, it still has to abide by the most basic employment discrimination laws in Oregon.”
A petition has been started to encourage the University to reinstate Professor Richardson. This petition, along with a copy of the complaint and other information about the case, can be found at https://hkm.com/richardson.