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Lawsuit by fired teacher begins today

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Trial begins today in a federal lawsuit filed by former teacher Christa Dias against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the two schools where she worked. Dias is claiming pregnancy discrimination under federal law after she was fired in October of 2010.

Dias, who taught at St. Lawrence and Holy Family schools, was fired when school officials learned of her pregnancy. Dias, who is not married, was not fired for being pregnant, but rather for violating her contract. All teachers with the archdiocese sign a contract stating that they will “comply with and act consistently in accordance with the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the policies and directives of the School and the Archdiocese.”

“That clause applies to all employees, male or female,” Archdiocese of Cincinnati spokesman Dan Andriacco said. “Ms. Dias was terminated for violating the contract that she signed.”

United States Senior District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel allowed the lawsuit to proceed on the grounds that Dias, as a computer technology teacher and a non-Catholic, was not a ministerial employee.

In the ruling, dated Jan. 30, Spiegel relates some of the facts of the case. It says that when Dias told the principal at Holy Family that she was pregnant, she was informed she would likely lose her job.

Dias then told the school “that, in fact, she had become pregnant not through premarital sex but through artificial insemination. Defendants then offered a second reason, stating she was terminated for being pregnant by means of artificial insemination. There is no factual dispute that Defendants offered both reasons in justification of Plaintiff’s termination.”

Andriacco went on to say that the archdiocese’s schools have an obligation to parents to enforce teacher contracts to provide a Catholic educational enviroment.

“What’s at stake here is really very simple: Parents who pay to send their children to a Catholic school have a right to expect that those children will be educated in an environment that reflects Catholic moral teaching,” Andriacco said. “That’s why our standard school contract specifies that employees will abide by the teachings of the Catholic Church. That’s the contract that Ms. Dias signed and she violated the contract.”

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