Mother: Henrico Baptist church will fire me if I don't get married
HENRICO COUNTY, Va. - It's a weekday routine Apryl Kellam has followed since September, preparing for work at the daycare inside Staples Mill Road Baptist Church in Henrico County.
However, the single, pregnant mother now claims she faces termination unless she gets married soon.
"You can't judge a person on their lifestyle," Kellam said.
Kellam claimed her boss demanded to know when she will be marrying her fiance, James. If the pair had not set a wedding date by next Monday, Kellam would be out of a job.
"When she hired me in September she knew that I had a child out-of-wedlock and I was living with the guy I was going to marry," Kellam said.
Kellam said that she received a glowing review from her boss Thursday, but that the issue of her marital status was a problem.
"It hurts. I really hurts my feelings," Kellam said. "She had nothing but nice things to say, but then when we got to the end she asked about the marriage."
Kellam claims the employee handbook states workers in the church-run daycare need to be married. But she said she never signed that document.
CBS 6 News reached out to church leaders. Senior Pastor Jim Booth, who was made aware of Kellam's claim Friday morning, said the church loves their members and employees.
However, Pastor Booth stated that there are employment standards on the books, but could not comment on Kellam's situation, calling it a personnel matter.
"It is difficult knowing we won't have the paycheck to provide for our family," Kellam said. "It hurts. It really hurts my feelings."
Kellam said that if she is terminated she is considering legal action.
Harris Butler, an employment attorney, said that the situation is not cut and dry because of the separation of church and state. On the other hand, Butler said that the church's employee handbook does not supersede federal law.
"It is a gray area," Butler explained. "Churches can hire someone based on their religion and they can discriminate against a person in that way. But they can't discriminate against an individual, for instance pregnancy."
After Kellam reported to work on Friday, she said her bosses suspended her. And Kellam claims she was told that she will be terminated if she is still living with her fiancé on Monday.
"I keep taking it one day at a time. Find a job that can provide better for my family and get married on our time," Kellam said.
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