Second gay Roncalli counselor has plans to sue

November 26, 2018

Not long after Roncalli High School guidance counselor Shelly Fitzgerald was placed on paid administrative leave because of her same-sex marriage, a second Roncalli guidance counselor announced she had filed a discrimination complaint against the school and Archdiocese of Indianapolisand plans to sue because she, too, is in a civil union.

Lynn Starkey, who has worked at Roncalli High School for 21 years and for Roncalli overall 39 years, is the school’s co-director of guidance and worked alongside Fitzgerald. According to Starkey’s attorney, Kathleen Delaney, the counselor announced she had filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Roncalli and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, alleging discrimination and hostile work environment based on sex and sexual orientation.

According to the charges, two days after Fitzgerald was barred from the school, Roncalli principal Chuck Weisenbach asked Starkey if she also had a civil union.

“I asked him whether he really wanted to ask me that question,” Starkey said in documents provided by Delaney. “He said ‘yes’. I answered ‘yes.’”

“The Archdiocese and Roncalli’s decision to threaten Ms. Fitzgerald’s employment, and place her on administrative leave, has severely or pervasively adversely altered the condition of my work environment in multiple respects,” Starkey said.

Starkey’s complaint alleges that she has had to assume many of Fitzgerald’s work responsibilities, substantially adding to her work load, and that she does not feel welcomed in her workplace environment as a gay person.

The counselor also added in the complaint that she has suffered “severe emotional distress, pain and suffering, and mental anguish as a result of the Archdiocese and Roncalli’s discriminatory actions.”

Additionally, Starkey alleges that she has not received any of the bonus payments confirmed in writing to her for a teacher of the year award she received in 2009. That award stated she would receive the amount of $1,500 per year.

“I believe that the withholding of this overdue payment has been motivated by discrimination against me because of my sexual orientation and marital status,” the complaint says.

The filing of an EEOC charge of discrimination is a required first step before a lawsuit may be initiated in court under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Once the EEOC completes its administrative review of the charges, Starkey intends to sue the Archdiocese and the school.

Neither Weisenbach nor the archdiocese responded to IL requests for comment.