Fired teacher can sue diocese

Fired teacher can sue diocese

“Catholic Teacher Can Pursue Suing Diocese”

A major victory in court Wednesday for a former Xavier High School teacher in her legal battle against the Green Bay Catholic Diocese.

Three years ago, Kelly Romenesko was fired after she used in vitro fertilization to get pregnant. She says she was told that violated her employee contract to uphold Catholic values.

Her complaint is not with church policy. Romenesko alleges male employees with the diocese used in vitro fertilization to have children and were not fired.

Her lawyer says their dispute is not with the Church’s teachings or even the policy that teachers must not publicly violate them, but that it must be applied equally to both men and women. I’d have to agree on that. Just because the effects of the action are more visible for the woman doesn’t make her actions worse than the man’s.

I recall a disturbing trend some years ago among a group of very devout young adults who shunned a young woman among them who’d gotten pregnant out of wedlock, while the young man suffered virtually no consequences. Why? Because he didn’t have to carry around a visible sign of his sin?

For all that we claim to be pro-life and that we love the sinner and hate the sin, sometimes we need to do a better job of being consistent about how we live that message.

I should point out that the diocese says that the claim that it singles out women and not men is not true:

Bishop David Zubik denied the claim that the former teacher was singled out.

“Any kind of a situation of this nature, whether it be a woman or a man, would be treated the same. It’s a matter of taking a look at not only the in vitro fertilization but supporting the teachings of the Catholic church, because anybody who is an employee of the Catholic church is representing what the church teaches.”

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  • Dom, the State’s ALJ made an error; in fact, he’s imposing the State’s PC onto a religious freedom case.

    The teacher had a morals clause in the contract; in-vitro is a violation of said clause.  Yapping about the pregnancy is a smokescreen and when it gets to the Appeals Court, (if it gets that far) it will be decided in favor of the school.

  • It’s an end-around the church/state divide.  The ALJ (and her attorney) are almost facetious in the argument—men just don’t get pregnant.

  • From the Appleton Post-Crescent story dated 10/4:

    “While district administrators warned Romenesko that employing IVF might violate her contractual obligation to uphold the church’s teachings, they did not fire her until after she informed them in mid-October she was pregnant. Romenesko gave birth to twin girls in 2005.

    …“A male employee, according to Romenesko, told her his children were the product of IVF, and recommended the doctor who later performed the procedure on Romenesko.

    “Abts, along with Joseph Bound, ACES/Xavier’s former president, deny they were aware of any other employees’ involvement with in vitro fertilization. Romenesko said she didn’t name names because she didn’t want to “get anyone in trouble.”

    “Abts, who at the time was principal at St. Joseph Middle School, said he didn’t investigate Romenesko’s claims about other employees because he didn’t believe them.

    ““I looked at it as Kelly trying to justify her behavior and at that point I did not feel I should go chasing these rumors,” Abts said.”

    Romenesko had also alleged that another woman teacher ‘told everyone’ that she had IVF to conceive—and that woman testified under oath that Romenesko was lying—that she had NOT told anyone about it.

    So Romenesko has a credibility problem.  That’s why the first investigator found “no probable cause” that the school discriminated.

    More here:

    And more here:

  • You’re missing the point. She says that male employees violated the morals clause and were not fired. I’m not saying that her in vitro fertilization is okay, but if the school treats men and women who do the same thing—contract in vitro fertilization—then they should receive the same punishment. Your own linked stories say the same thing.

  • No question about it—if it’s true.

    But even if she is telling the truth about “the male employee,” the difference is that SHE was WARNED, and he was not, which is an important component of the firing process.

    And it raises a question:  IF the male employee HAD ‘talked’ about his situation, why didn’t the school warn him and/or fire him?

    NOT because they discriminate.  Rather, it’s because they did not know (or, perhaps, because Romenesko is making it up.)

    The ALJ took the bait of R’s attorney, hook-line-and-sinker, to turn this into a discrimination case, which it emphatically is not.

    It’s like arguing that the sky is blue when the Brewers lose a ballgame.  Her attorney will be glad to argue that it’s the sky’s fault—but the two facts are co-incidental, not causative.