Friday, September 05, 2014

Catholic School Teacher Can Pursue Title VII Claim After Firing For In Vitro Fertilization

In Herx v. Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, (ND IN, Sept. 3, 2014), Emily Herx, a former teacher at a Catholic school, sued under Title VII and the Americans With Disabiliteis Act after the diocese refused to renew her teaching contract because she became pregnant through in vitro fertilization. The Catholic Church considers in vitro fertilization immoral.  The court granted the Diocese's motion to dismiss the ADA claim becuase no jury could reasonably find that she lost her job because of her infertility (her claimed disability).  Instead it was because of her treatment for her disability. The court however refused to dismiss Herx's Title VII sex discrimination claim.  First it concluded that the ministerial exception doctrine did not apply because Herx was not a "minister."  It then went on to hold:
while a jury could find that a gender-neutral rule against in vitro fertilization prompted her nonrenewal, a jury also could find that a male teacher’s contract would have been renewed under the same circumstances.
The Fort Wayne Gazette reports on the decision.