The owners of a Columbia hair salon filed a $5.5 million lawsuit against a former employee, contending that they were defamed by her allegations that they fired her because she had an abortion.
Robin George Davidson and his wife, Patrice Davidson, filed the countersuit in Howard Circuit Court earlier this month in response to the woman's lawsuit in which she is seeking nearly $4 million in damages from them.
The Davidsons say the case has unfairly put them and their private beliefs into the public eye. They said the lawsuit has "mischaracterized" them and falsely affiliated them with the anti-abortion movement.
The woman, Robin Flanigan of Baltimore County, claims in a lawsuit filed in December that the Davidsons fired her from her job as a stylist at their shop, Revelations in Hair Design in Harper's Choice Village, because she had an abortion in 1990.
Ms. Flanigan, who lives in West Edmondale, contends that the Davidsons harassed her for weeks while she was deciding to have an abortion and then fired her five days after she had the procedure.
In addition to bringing the countersuit, the Davidsons filed a response to Ms. Flanigan's lawsuit in which they deny her allegations and ask that her suit be dismissed.
The Davidsons say in their Feb. 14 filings that Ms. Flanigan was fired because of insubordination, poor job performance and an unwillingness to discuss ways to improve her work.
The couple contend in the lawsuit that they received numerous harassing telephone calls after reports on Ms. Flanigan's case appeared in newspapers and on television and radio shows. They also say business at their shop has declined.
The Davidsons say in their filings that Ms. Flanigan openly discussed her plans for an abortion with co-workers and customers. They say Ms. Flanigan approached them for help in making the decision.
They added that they gave Ms. Flanigan time off from work so she could recuperate after having the abortion. They also gave another worker time off to accompany Ms. Flanigan when she went to have the procedure.
In interviews, Mr. Davidson has said he and his wife are opposed to abortion, but that their beliefs did not affect their decision to dismiss Ms. Flanigan.
Ms. Flanigan, 21 and single at the time, said she decided to have the abortion because she didn't feel she was ready to have a child.