Jennifer Maudlin, a 33-year-old unmarried mother, was terminated from her employment after her employer became aware of her pregnancy. Ms. Maudlin was initially employed in 2008 as a cook by “Inside Out” a Christian-based, childcare facility located in Springfield, Ohio. William Stout is the founder, president, and director of Inside Out. At the time of her hire, Ms. Maudlin was unmarried and the mother of a four-year-old toddler. In February 2012, while still unmarried, Ms. Maudlin discovered that she was again pregnant. She attempted to conceal her pregnancy for as long as possible because other unmarried women had been terminated for becoming pregnant while working at Inside Out. In August 2012, she could no longer conceal her pregnancy and told her employer of her condition. After revealing her pregnancy, she was told that, given her circumstances, it was best that she not return.
Currently, conflicting decisions on the issue of sexual and pregnancy discrimination by religious institutions exist in the Sixth Circuit. This case may present an opportunity to clarify and, hopefully, develop favorable law.
We filed Ms. Maudlin’s EEOC administrative charge on February 26, 2013. The initial offer of representation for Ms. Maudlin was limited to representation in the EEOC administrative proceedings. The decision was then made to proceed further. Freda Levenson, a law professor and an EEOC specialist, was enlisted to assist on the case as a volunteer attorney. The EEOC conducted some preliminary investigation and issued us a “right to sue” letter, dated August 28, 2013. Based on the right to sue letter, the EEOC terminated its investigation. We submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and obtained the EEOC investigation file. A complaint was filed against Inside Out and William Stout in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on October 1, 2013, alleging employment discrimination under Title VII and under Ohio Fair Employment Law. Two weeks later, on October 15, the case was transferred to the Western Division of the Southern District of Ohio in Dayton, where it was assigned to the docket of Judge Thomas Rose. Inside Out and Mr. Stout filed their Answer to our Complaint on November 21, 2013. That same day, Mr. Stout filed a Motion to Dismiss the Title VII claims brought against him individually. On December 12, 2013, we filed our Response in Opposition to Mr. Stout’s Motion to Dismiss, and Mr. Stout filed his reply on December 24, 2013.
On April 3, 2014, Judge Rose granted Mr. Stout’s Motion to Dismiss the Title VII claims brought against him individually, finding that there were insufficient facts to prove Mr. Stout was an “employer” under Title VII.
On July 31, 2014, on agreement of the parties, the case was reassigned to Chief Magistrate Judge Sharon L. Ovington. The parties exchanged their initial disclosures on August 15, 2014, and several days later, a pretrial teleconference was held. Judge Ovington issued an order stipulating the schedule leading up to trial. Discovery commenced, with the parties exchanging interrogatories and document requests. On October 29, the Defendants’ attorney withdrew, and new counsel was substituted. The parties filed an agreed motion to extend the pre-trial schedule in light of the change.
Several discovery disputes arose and the parties were not able to resolve them without judicial intervention. We filed a motion and memorandum of law on January 15, 2015 to compel responses, and the defendants filed their response on February 5. We noticed, subpoenaed, or planned to subpoena approximately 12 depositions, and the defendants requested that the plaintiff appear for deposition, during the months of February and March, 2015.
On January 23, 2015, the court made a referral to Magistrate Judge Michael Newman solely for the purpose of attempting to mediate a resolution of the case. Mediation occurred on February 10, and concluded with the parties agreeing upon the terms of a settlement which included Inside Out making changes to its employment policy. The case was dismissed on February 17, 2015.