A New Jersey Superior Court Judge recently ruled that a Catholic School guidance counselor fired after marrying her partner can proceed with her lawsuit. A former dean of guidance and basketball coach at Paramus Catholic High School was terminated after photos of her same-sex wedding were posted to the school’s Facebook page. The lawsuit alleges that the school, its president, and the Archdiocese of Newark violated employment discrimination laws in terminating her employment.
The First Amendment and Discrimination
Paramus Catholic High School asked the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that churches are permitted to require employees to subscribe to their religious tenets. The school sets forth that that the First Amendment protects the school from government interference in their religion. The school claims that the employee was not terminated for being gay, but for being in a same-sex marriage, which they believe does not violate anti-discrimination laws.
The plaintiff claims that because the school distributed other anti-discrimination policies, they should adhere to all of the state laws regarding discrimination. The former employee feels that Paramus Catholic is picking and choosing to adhere to the laws that suit their religious agenda. The suit explains that the plaintiff’s duties did not involve any sort of religious guidance or instruction. Both parties are continuing to argue on where church and state should be separated in this case.
New Jersey Superior Court found that more discovery needs to be completed to determine if this dispute is religious or secular. The state will review each of the plaintiff’s claims individually to establish whether the school was acting under ministerial freedoms protected by the First Amendment, or if they violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). Until that determination is made, the case can proceed. The Superior Court’s go-ahead to continue with the lawsuit is likely the first step in a lengthy, contentious legal journey for everyone involved.
Cherry Hill LGBT Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Fight Employment Discrimination
The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) prohibits employers from making employment decisions that negatively affect an employee due to gender identification, sex, age, race, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability. The NJLAD is very complex and is often changed to reflect social changes. If you suspect that you have been discriminated against at work, you need experienced Cherry Hill employment lawyers to advocate on your behalf. Call Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. at 215-569-1999 or complete our online form to discuss your case. We serve clients throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.