African-American Former Youth Minister, Jennifer James, Files Lawsuit Over Race Discrimination at St. Louis Presybterian Church

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A former youth and young adult minister of a Presbyterian church in Florissant is suing the church and her former supervisors, alleging race discrimination and retaliation. 

Jennifer James of St. Louis filed the suit in St. Louis County Circuit Court on Tuesday. The suit says that when James, who is black, was employed at John Knox Presbyterian Church she was repeatedly asked offensive questions about her race, her hair, and “what happens in black churches.” The suit says that more than once, she was reprimanded by Pastor John Higgins for not getting African-American Youth to join the church.

She was employed by the church for three years until she was fired in November 2013, the suit says. In addition to Higgins, Ann Mills, a personnel team leader, is also named in the suit.

The suit also says Higgins repeatedly did not acknowledge she was an ordained minister, refused to let her use “Reverend” in front of her name and told others not to use the title. But he did have her preach whenever he thought it was necessary, the suit says.

James was subject to harsher discipline than white employees for comparable alleged misconduct, the suit says. When she appealed to Mills and the personnel team regarding the treatment from Higgins, she received new restrictions, the suit says.

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Source: St. Louis Today | Valerie Schremp Hahn