Friday, March 30, 2012

Catholic School Teacher May Challenge Her Firing For Using Artificial Insemination

In Dias v. Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43240 (SD OH, March 29, 2012), an Ohio federal district court refused to dismiss a pregnancy discrimination and breach of contract suit brought by a former technology coordinator at two Catholic schools. Plaintiff, a non-Catholic, oversaw the schools' computer systems and instructed students on computer usage. As a non-Catholic, she was not permitted to teach religion classes. When plaintiff became pregnant, she was fired. Initially she was told her dismissal was because she became pregnant while she was unmarried, but subsequently she was informed that it was because she had used artificial insemination, which violates Catholic teachings.

The court held that the ministerial exception does not apply because plaintiff is not a ministerial employee. While plaintiff's contract stated that she would comply with the teachings of the Catholic Church, the court concluded that there is a question of fact as to whether a non-Catholic would know that artificial insemination is against Church teachings. Finally it held that plaintiff had stated a plausible claim that she was terminated because of her   pregnancy, and not because of a policy against extramarital sex enforced equally against men and women.