A former Catholic school teacher is suing the New Jersey school where she once worked after they fired her for being pregnant and single. Victoria Crisitello was fired from St. Theresa in Kenilworth “because she was pregnant and single,” according to court documents. The lawsuit, however, has been back and forth in trial and appellate courts for several years now.
After Crisitello won twice in the appeals court after the lawsuit was dismissed by the lower courts, the state’s highest court has now agreed to hear the case after Sainte-ThÃ©rÃ¨se has appealed. The school argued that it was entitled to âfundamental freedom of religionâ.
âSex out of wedlock violates a fundamental Catholic belief that the school in this case felt it could not ignore,â the Sainte-ThÃ©rÃ¨se lawyers wrote in their petition to the state’s Supreme Court.
Crisitello’s attorney, Thomas A. McKinney, however, said the case concerned gender discrimination, sexual double standards and First Amendment rights, the New York Times reported.
McKinney also said the school had made no attempt to see if there were any men on staff engaging in premarital sex and that the only evidence she had of this with Crisitello was her pregnancy. . He argued that under these circumstances only women can be punished.
“If you are going to punish someone for doing something,” he told the newspaper, “it has to be applied evenly and consistently.”
Crisitello was fired in 2014 after asking for a raise because she was pregnant. Her daughter is now 7 years old.
Last July, the Supreme Court ruled in âLady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru âthat federal employment discrimination laws do not apply to denominational school teachers if their duties are related to religious instruction. Crisitello taught art, however.
“Religious institutions of many denominations in this state are now at risk of being drawn into the vortex of employment disputes, contrary to the constitutional view regarding the separation of church and state,” the petition says.
The school argued in its petition that Crisitello’s case falls under this decision.
Crisitello had his daughter baptized Catholic and said her lawyer said he did not view their lawsuit as “an attack on the Catholic Church“.