A woman is suing a Roman Catholic school in New Jersey, alleging the school violated the state’s discrimination law when she was fired because she’s married to a woman.
But Christopher Westrick, an attorney for Paramus Catholic High School, its president, James Vail, and the Archdiocese of Newark, on Friday planned to ask a judge to dismiss Kate Drumgoole’s suit. In court papers, the lawyer argues Drumgoole was not dismissed because of her sexual orientation.
Westrick said his clients didn’t violate the state’s anti-discrimination law because it allows churches to require their workers to abide by the tenets of the Catholic faith.
“Instead, she was terminated for violating the Ministerial Policies and the Code of Ethics – in failing to abide by the tenets of the Roman Catholic faith, i.e. by entering into a same sex marriage,” Westrick states.
He also said his clients’ actions are protected under the First Amendment, which ensures the free exercise of religion.
Drumgoole told The Record newspaper she was fired as dean of guidance and head coach of the basketball team in January after administrators learned she was married to a woman.
In certification filings, Drumgoole said her job never included religious instruction.
As a guidance counselor, she set up tutoring for struggling students, provided counseling on academics and preparing for college, ensured that learning disabled received help and intervened in bullying incidents. But her role became more administrative after promotions in 2013 and 2014, such as running department meetings and organizing award ceremonies.
Drumgoole said other faculty members remain employed even though they don’t abide by the church’s tenets, and that she feels as though she was singled out.
Drumgoole said only one co-worker knew about her private life.
“I’m a private person,” she said. “Particularly when you work with adolescents, I believe your private life should be private.”
Westrick declined to comment when reached by phone on Thursday.
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