45 years ago today - Jun 25, 1975-Wednesday

[Leonard Arrington]
... Before Maureen [Ursenbach] agreed to marry Dale [Beecher], she discussed privately with me the possibility that this might affect her employment with us. She mentioned specifically that their marriage might result in her becoming pregnant and she understood that the Personnel Department would force her off the payroll after she had a baby. I told her that while I thought she should marry Dale if she loved him and without any regard to the future consequences with respect to her professional work, her capabilities were very much needed by the Historical Department and if she should become pregnant, I would do my best to make it possible for her to remain a member of our staff. She did, of course, decide to marry and she did become pregnant.

We were inclined to let the Personnel Committee make the first move to terminate her services, but in preparing the lessons for the Relief Society, she had a number of contacts with Roger Merrill of the Personnel Department. In May, noticing her obvious pregnancy, he told her that the Personnel Department would have to terminate her services upon the birth of her baby unless a special exception was made by the Personnel Committee. He suggested a number of rationalizations which might induce the Personnel Committee to make an exception.

After Maureen came to me with this report, I wrote a letter to Elder Joseph Anderson regarding an exception. Brother Anderson said that it was a matter which should be taken to our advisors. In our regular meeting with the advisors, I explained the matter orally. Brother [Delbert L.] Stapley, who is a member of the Personnel Committee, suggested that I write a letter to the Personnel Committee asking that an exception be made. I did so. ... I also suggested that Maureen herself might write a letter which could be sent along with my letter to the Personnel Committee. Dale decided he should also like to write a letter as husband and prospective father, which he did. ...

Elder Stapley later reported that the Personnel Committee had decided to make an exception in the case of Sister Beecher and that no action would be taken to terminate her services. ... Elder Stapley later phoned me to tell me that Brother Williams had decided to ask the Legal Department of the Church to render an opinion as to whether making this exception would set a precedent which would force the Church to retain without termination all women employees who gave birth to children.

We have learned through private sources that this matter was taken to the Legal Department. The Legal Department felt that the Church would be in clear violation if it fired a woman simply because she had a baby and that the Legal Department recommended the Personnel Committee take this into consideration not only in this instance but in other instances which arise.

... Our private sources suggest that the Church may find it desirable to alter its policy to conform with the Civil Rights Act of 1972. In any case, it looks hopeful that we will be able to retain Maureen as a member of our staff, but if so, we shall probably be counseled to keep this quiet.

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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