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Employee in Same-Sex Civil Union Sues Religious School

The “church autonomy doctrine” did not bar the plaintiff’s claims of discrimination, says court.


Key Point 8-12.01 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers engaged in commerce and having at least 15 employees from discriminating in any employment decision on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, or religion. Religious organizations are exempt from the ban on religious discrimination, but not from the other prohibited forms of discrimination.

A federal court in Indiana ruled that a female counselor at a Catholic school whose employment was terminated because of her civil union with another woman could sue the school for discrimination so long as her position was not “of substantial religious importance.”


A Catholic school did not renew the employment contract of its Co-Director of Guidance Counseling (the “plaintiff”) based on her civil union with another woman in violation of the Catholic Church’s moral teachings. ...

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  • October 7, 2021