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Judge rules against Cincinnati archdiocese in firing of Catholic school employee

CWN - February 08, 2013

A senior US district court judge has ruled against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in a case involving the dismissal of an employee who became pregnant by artificial insemination.

Christa Dias, a computer technology coordinator at two schools, alleged that the archdiocese violated laws barring discrimination against pregnant employees. The archdiocese, in turn, invoked the ministerial exception to anti-discrimination laws.

Judge S. Arthur Spiegel ruled that the ministerial exception, which was unanimously upheld last year by the United States Supreme Court, does not apply to non-Catholic employees such as Dias who do not teach Catholic doctrine.

In defending its firing of Dias, the archdiocese also invoked a morals clause in its contract. According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the archdiocese has invoked the clause only against female employees, raising questions of discrimination. “The parties dispute whether a former male employee of a parish within the Archdiocese, who testified he engaged in artificial insemination without being fired, serves as evidence of disparate treatment,” the judge stated.

Judge Spiegel ruled that the case should be sent to a jury. “Should the jury conclude after hearing the testimony of the decision-makers that the policy has been enforced unequally as to men and women,” Judge Spiegel stated, the jury could find that the archdiocese’s invocation of its morals clause was a “pretext for pregnancy discrimination.”

Judge Spiegel, 92, was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

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  • Posted by: Defender - Feb. 08, 2013 4:53 PM ET USA

    The plot thickens...."The court, however, held that plaintiff could not sue for breach of contract because she knew she was in violations of its morals clause by hiding a long-term homosexual relationship from her employer." Seems to me that Catholic schools have been asked to hire Catholics only. Though everyone may not teach religion, everyone is a model for students. Everyone should be required to sign a mandatum, for that matter.

  • Posted by: jasoncpetty3446 - Feb. 08, 2013 1:07 PM ET USA

    Thank God the Archdiocese lost. This is the first step in getting the Catholic schools to start hiring ONLY Catholics. She wasn't Catholic, which was one reason the school couldn't enforce its contract with her.

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