The lawyer for an unwed Butte Central teacher who was fired because she got pregnant won a similar case against an archdiocese in Ohio last year.

Cincinnati-based lawyer Brian Butler represented a woman who had become pregnant while unwed while working at a Catholic school. The Ohio woman, Christa Dias, was awarded $170,000 after the jury found the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati had discriminated against her by firing her once she became pregnant by artificial insemination while unmarried.

In that case, the jury was instructed that even if an employee signed an employment contract containing a morality clause, that does not exempt that person's employment from the protections of federal and state anti-discrimination laws. The jury was told that an employee cannot waive his rights to be free from unlawful discrimination. In the Ohio case, it was made clear that an employer, whether a religious institution or not, cannot require an employee to sign a contract giving up certain civil rights, which includes the right of a woman to bear children.

Butler said that Evenson will file a discrimination charge with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which will investigate the firing. He said Evenson is protected from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy by title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Butler, who is admitted to the Ohio bar but not to the Montana bar, said a Montana team of lawyers will join the case once it's filed.

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