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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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