April 2017 Church & State - April 2017

Gay Calif. Catholic School Teacher’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Can Proceed To Trial

  AU admin

A wrongful termination case filed by a gay former Catholic school teacher who says he was stripped of his job after he married his partner can proceed to trial in California.

Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner on Feb. 27 rejected arguments from St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora that there were no triable issues, and will allow the case to proceed.

Teacher Kenneth Bencomo said he was fired two weeks after he married his partner of 10 years, Christopher Persky. They were among the first to wed after the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for same-sex couples to marry again in California in 2013.

In her decision, the judge noted that Bencomo stated he had not hidden that he was gay during his more than 15 years with the school, leading him to believe he was not violating his employment contract by getting married. And while he acknow­ledged he worked at a Cath­olic school, he said he did not teach religious subjects and did not lead students in prayer.

The school’s attorney argued the school should have immunity from Bencomo’s claims under the “ministerial exception,” which precludes claims of employment discrimination against a religious institution.

School officials said they will review whether to appeal the judge’s ruling, according to the Monrovia Patch.

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