Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Catholic School's Firing of Guidance Counselor Over Same-Sex Marriage Remains In Litigation

In Drumgoogle v. Paramus Catholic High School, (NJ Super., Aug. 22, 2016), a New Jersey state trial court refused to grant summary judgment to a Catholic high school in a suit by its former dean of guidance who was fired after she entered a same-sex marriage.  The school terminated her under a provision of its collective bargaining contract that allows for-cause termination of a tenured teacher for "violating accepted standards of Catholic morality as to cause public scandal." Plaintiff claims that the school's policy on harassment bars discrimination against her on the basis of marital status and claims her firing violates the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination.  The court concluded that further discovery is required in order to determine whether plaintiff's status requires application of the "ministerial exception" to anti-discrimination laws and whether the dispute is secular or ecclesiastical. The Bergen County Record reports on the decision.