Vaughn v. Lawrenceburg v. Power Sys.

269 F.3d 703 (6th Cir. 2001)


Ps worked for D and became engaged. D has an anti-nepotism policy. It was D's policy to employ only one member of a family. When two employees working for D are subsequently married, one must terminate employment. D discovered Ps were going to get married and informed them of the rules. They were told that if they remained unmarried and merely lived together, there would be no problem with the exogamy rule. Ps were reluctant to pursue this option, in large part because Jennifer had become pregnant with Keith's son, who was born the following July. When the couple arrived back from their honeymoon, they found a letter suspending both of them for a minimum of two weeks, until February 9, 1998. If during that time, they came to a decision, they were to let D know. Ps decided Jennifer would quit. The following day Keith arrived for work but not Jennifer. P was then fired as well. There is a dispute as to what happened when P met with management the day he was fired. Ps filed a lawsuit against D in the Circuit Court for Lawrence County. The complaint alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on 'the fundamental right of marriage and freedom of association.' The complaint also alleged that the policy was selectively enforced against P, knowing that a pregnant Jennifer would be the one to leave and that this constituted discrimination on the basis of sex. D removed the case to federal court, and it was referred to Magistrate Judge Griffin. The magistrate judge found the policy not materially distinguishable from the one upheld in Montgomery v. Carr and also found that 'Vaughn's objections to the defendant's no-spouse policy were personal in nature' and were therefore not protected under the First Amendment. The magistrate also found that P was not protected by the THRA because he was not opposing a discriminatory practice, but one that was in fact legitimate. The magistrate recommended that Ps' case be dismissed. Ps opposed that motion but the District Court adopted the magistrate's report. Ps appealed.