Tuesday, October 08, 2013

First Amendment Does Not Protect Diocese From Discovery Request

In Herx v.Diocese of Fort Wayne- South Bend, Inc., (ND IN, Oct. 7, 2013), an Indiana federal district court rejected a Catholic diocese's First Amendment defenses to a discovery request. Plaintiff is a former Catholic elementary school teacher whose contract was not renewed after the school learned that she had become pregnant through in vitro fertilization. The school claimed she had violated the "morals clause" in her teaching contract. In discovery, plaintiff sought information on how the morals clause had been applied to other teachers. The court rejected the diocese's argument that this is an improper inquiry into religiously based matters of a religious employer in violation of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. It also rejected the argument that Title VII and the ADA exempt it from these discovery requests.