New Jersey Supreme Court to Hear Case Involving Pregnant Woman Fired from Catholic School | Hemant Mehta | Sympathetic atheist


Seven years ago, a New Jersey Catholic art teacher was fired after her school said she violated their employment contract by having premarital sex – which they knew because she was obviously pregnant.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the courts have been on this teacher’s side, Victoria crisitelloeven after multiple Church calls. In a case decided by the state’s Superior Court of Appeal last November, judges argued that Crisitello was not involved in religious education. But more importantly, they said the school selectively discriminated against her:

the school never made any effort to determine whether any of its other employees violated the school’s ban on “immoral conduct”… We now hold that knowledge or mere observation of an employee’s pregnancy is not in itself an admissible basis for detecting violations of school policy and lay off an employee.

This is far from the only time this sort of thing has happened – and the irony is that Crisitello could have kept her job if she had aborted, because the Catholic Church just wouldn’t have it. Note. Meanwhile, men who impregnate women before marriage, but do not make it public, may not be punished at all. It is more sex discrimination than anything else.

The judges even noted that Crisitello had been treated unfairly:

We overturn because, on summary judgment, it was not in dispute that the defendant took no action to detect whether any of its employees violated Catholic principles or the defendant’s employee handbook. Instead, the evidence established that The defendant relied solely on the knowledge of pregnancy and marital status of its employees as the basis for applying its code of ethics and the requirements of its manual – none of which specifically addressed premarital sex. as prohibited conduct, but the first of which prohibited engaging in “immoral conduct” which could cause “scandal”.

In other words, no one was saying that the Catholic Church could not make its own employment rules. But they didn’t apply it to everyone, and that was the crux of the matter. (The archdiocese said in a recent brief that a teacher at another school was fired for making his girlfriend pregnant, so TAKE THIS, allegations of sex discrimination… Although, again, firing someone who is about to have a child doesn’t really like someone on the Church side.)

But now the New Jersey Supreme Court has decided to take the case and there are fears – based on recent US Supreme Court rulings – that it will decide everything is fine as long as it is part of a “religious freedom”:

Last July, the Supreme Court ruled that federal employment discrimination laws do not apply to denominational school teachers whose duties include religious education. In doing so, it broadened the scope of employees found to be outside the scope of protections against discrimination in employment – known as the “ministerial exception” to workplace bias laws.

The expanded definition could arguably be applied to almost any employee of a religious school, significantly altering job protections, even in a state like New Jersey, where workers have traditionally enjoyed strong legal guarantees.said Stacy Hawkins, a professor at Rutgers Law School who teaches employment law.

No date has been set for oral arguments, but this case will ultimately come down to whether fair laws can simply be rejected if there is a religious argument for doing so. It’s a scary precedent, but it seems like this is the direction we’re headed.

(Image via Shutterstock)


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