Defending Against Claims of Discrimination
Why financial misconduct defense trumped sexual harassment claim in NC case.

A federal court in North Carolina dismissed a church employee's allegations of sexual harassment on the ground that the church had offered a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for dismissing her. The employee (the "plaintiff"), who was the senior pastor's administrative assistant, obtained a church member's three contribution checks from the financial secretary's mailbox, and then entered a designation for each check on its memo line which referred to a church account that did not exist. When the senior pastor learned of the plaintiff's actions, he confronted her. She admitted her conduct was wrong, and offered to resign. The pastor informed her the following day that she had the option of resigning or submitting to an investigation by the church's staff-parish relations committee in accordance with the church's bylaws. He cited "dishonesty and breach of confidentiality" as reasons for his ultimatum.

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Posted: June 1, 2009
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