Saturday, December 20, 2014

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Fired for Out-of-Wedlock Pregnancy, Catholic School Teacher Plans Lawsuit

A school teacher who was fired from a Catholic school in Montana after revealing her out-of-wedlock pregnancy plans to pursue legal action, according to The Montana Standard.

Butte Central Catholic High School was compelled to uphold its Catholic identity by dismissing Shaela Evenson, a literature and physical education instructor, for breaking her employment contract. 

The superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Helena, Patrick Haggarty, said that Evenson “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract,” which requires her to respect the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church in both her professional and personal life, and that “[i]t’s a sensitive issue, and it’s unfortunate all around,” according to the Standard.  He continued:

The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman… And we certainly believe and we teach our children who attend our schools about the sacrament of marriage.  That’s as old as our Church.  Not only do we teach that to the children kindergarten through 12th grade, but we’re held to that standard as well.

The Diocese spokesman Dan Bartleson echoed the superintendent’s reasons for the firing.  He stated, “A Catholic school teacher enters into an agreement not only with the district but with parents and teachers ...to follow a lifestyle in line with Catholic teachings.”

The matter is not a done deal, as Evenson plans to pursue legal action, according to a later article by the Standard.  Evenson has hired Ohio-based lawyer Brian Butler, who won a similar case last year. The Standard reports:

Cincinnati-based lawyer Brian Butler represented a woman who had become pregnant while unwed while working at a Catholic school.  The Ohio woman, Christa Dias, was awarded $170,000 after the jury found the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati had discriminated against her by firing her once she became pregnant by artificial insemination while unmarried.

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