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Catholic school teacher claims termination due to fertility treatments

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A Fort Wayne teacher whose contract at St. Vincent de Paul School was not renewed last year claims it was because she is undergoing fertility treatment.

Emily Herx filed her lawsuit in federal court in Fort Wayne April 20 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Herx taught literature and language arts at the Catholic school for nearly eight years before her employment was terminated. She alleges in her suit it’s because she underwent fertility treatments to try to have a baby.

In 2008, Herx informed the school principal that she’d be undergoing the treatment. She heard no negative feedback about her treatment. When she requested time off in 2011 to undergo a second in-vitro fertilization treatment, she was asked to meet with Monsignor John Kuzmich, the pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. According to the suit, Kuzmich said another teacher complained she was undergoing IVF treatment and if word got out about it, it could be a “scandal.”  Several days later, her contract was not renewed for “improprieties related to church teachings or law.”

She filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in October 2011, which found the school terminated her employment in violation of Title VII and ADA.

In her suit, Herx claims the defendants discriminated against her because she could not become pregnant naturally and male teachers use contraceptives or have had vasectomies and were not terminated. She also alleges the defendants violated the ADA because she has been diagnosed with infertility by a doctor and the school treated her differently because of her disability.

Herx is seeking compensatory damages, compensation for mental anguish and emotional distress, liquidated or punitive damages, and any other relief to which she is entitled.
The suit is Emily Herx v. Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Inc. and St. Vincent de Paul School, No. 1:12-CV-122.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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