A New Jersey teacher who was fired by her Catholic school for being unmarried and pregnant is still stuck in a 7-year legal battle with her former employer, who argues her firing was not discriminatory.
The New York Times reports on a lawsuit filed by Victoria Crisitello, a former art teacher for the elementary school St. Theresa School. Crisitello was terminated in 2014, after the school learned she was going to have a child; the Roman Catholic nun serving as principal explicitly told her she was fired because she was “unmarried and pregnant.”
Crisitello sued the school, but after an appeals court sided with Crisitello twice, the state Supreme Court intervened on behalf of the school in May and agreed to hear the case. The school argues that the firing is not discriminatory because the school was exercising its “freedom of religion,” with lawyers for the school saying that “sex out of wedlock violates a fundamental Catholic belief that the school in this instance felt it could not overlook.” The school also argues that Crisitello’s firing is legal under the decision of the 2020 Supreme Court case Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, which found that federal employment discrimination laws don’t apply to teachers at religious schools. The court does not currently have a set date to hear oral arguments, the New York Times reports.
This is not the first time a Catholic School has fired an employee for their personal life. Several Catholic school employees in the last few years have been fired by their respective employers for being pregnant out of wedlock, gay, or both! In 2013 an Arkansas teacher was fired for getting married to her longtime partner, and in 2014 a teacher was fired in Michigan by a Catholic school after she announced she was pregnant with her partner and gay. In 2012 a teacher was even fired by her Catholic school after undergoing IVF treatments.