Court upholds right of church to fire gay employee

Court upholds right of church to fire gay employee June 14, 2017


The music director of Holy Family Catholic Church in Chicago announced his engagement to another man, so the church fired him.  He sued the church for discrimination, demanding reinstatement and damages.

But the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the church, citing the First Amendment and the Supreme Court precedent in the church-hiring case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC.

From Tyler O’Neil, Judge Defends Religious Freedom Against LGBT Threat:

In a victory for religious freedom, a federal judge ruled in favor of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago against a former employee, Colin Collette. Collette sued the church for discrimination last year after being fired as a result of announcing his same-sex “engagement” on Facebook in 2014.

“Colin Collette knew what the house rules of the Catholic Church were before he announced his ‘engagement’ to his boyfriend in 2014, so he should not have been surprised when the parish he worked for fired him,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue declared in a statement praising the ruling. When Collette was dismissed in 2014, then-Archbishop of Chicago Francis Cardinal George said the gay man was fired for his “participation in a form of union that cannot be recognized as a sacrament by the Church.”

Collette, who served as music director at Holy Family Catholic Community for 17 years, told The Chicago Tribune he felt a “sense of abandonment by the church.” On March 3, 2016, he sued the church seeking reinstatement of his job, lost wages, and damages.

On April 18, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas P. Kocoras ruled against Collette, dismissing the lawsuit and upholding the church’s religious freedom over hiring and firing. (The decision was announced last week.) Kocoras rooted the church’s freedom in the First Amendment, but he also cited the 2012 Supreme Court case Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC.

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Photo of Lady Justice by William Cho, Public Domain, via Pixabay

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