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Church must submit documents in discrimination suit

A former teacher won a small victory in her court case against a Roman Catholic diocese in Indiana that she says discriminated against her when it fired her for undergoing in vitro fertilization. A federal magistrate ordered the diocese to turn over numerous documents because of the 33-year-old woman's gender discrimination lawsuit.

The records include those involving discipline actions against other diocese teachers for violating church teachings. Her attorney sought the records to help determine if she was treated differently than other diocese employees. The diocese had fought the request saying it should only hand over records from her school and not the entire diocese. However, the judge disagreed.

In her suit, the woman claimed her teaching contract was not renewed when the diocese found out she had undergone in vitro fertilization, which violates the teachings of the Catholic Church. In January 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission agreed the diocese had discriminated and ruled in her favor. She filed suit last year against the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend also claiming her dismissal was disability discrimination based on her infertility. Under the court's order, the diocese must release data from all the diocese's 41 schools containing the name of every teacher employed who signed a contract with a "morals clause" identical to the one the plaintiff signed, from Jan. 1, 2006 through June 22, 2011. The diocese has until Nov. 4 to comply.

Losing a job causes emotional as well as financial stress from lost income. An employment discrimination attorney might be able to determine if there were remedies under state or federal laws. An attorney could help to determine if it was possible to obtain compensation for losses and could pursue a claim for damages.

Source: Sun Herald, "Ind. diocese in vitro suit must release docs", Rick Callahan, October 10, 2013

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