Friday, May 30, 2014

Court Lets Fired Catholic School Administrator Continue Discrimination Suit

LifeSite News reports that a Washington state trial court judge last week refused to dismiss an employment discrimination lawsuit against Seattle's Eastside Catholic High School filed by Mark Zmuda, its former vice principal. Zmuda was forced to resign after he married his same-sex partner. Zmuda claims that the school violated its own anti-discrimination policy, while the school says Zmuda breached the morality clause in his contract that requires him to publicly uphold the teachings of the Catholic faith.  The school had given Zmuda the option to divorce his spouse and enter a civil commitment ceremony if he wanted to keep his position.

The court rejected the school's argument that the 1st Amendment's freedom of religion protections deprived the court of jurisdiction over the dispute.  King County Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer wrote in part: "The Federal and Supreme Courts have made it clear that an employee can sue regardless of ministerial doctrine." Zmuda's suit alleges violation of Washington's law against discrimination, breach of implied contract, wrongful termination, violation of the consumer protection act, and tortious interference. (See prior related posting.)