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Archdiocese Under Fire in Gender Discrimination Lawsuit


— June 14, 2021

A former Catholic school teacher with the Archdiocese of Louisville recently filed a gender discrimination lawsuit.


The Archdiocese of Louisville is under fire in a lawsuit over allegations of gender discrimination. The suit was filed by a former Catholic school teacher. According to the suit, the teacher, Sarah Syring, was fired from her position working as a middle school English teacher at St. Andrew Academy “because she and her partner were pregnant out of wedlock.According to her, she was “given the ultimatum to either resign or be fired.” 

Classroom with teacher at front; image by NeONBRAND, via Unsplash.com.
Classroom with teacher at front; image by NeONBRAND, via Unsplash.com.

Officials said that what happened was “the policy of the archdiocese.” However, according to the suit, when Syring notified “St. Andrews Academy Principal Stuart Cripe of her pregnancy, there were no concerns.” She said, “My principal assured me that my job was secure, that he was a more liberal Catholic and didn’t see a problem with it.”

Soon after, she was approached by Cripe and Fr. Chris Lubecke who said “it was not acceptable.” Syring said, “They said, ‘No, no way. We can’t have her in front of the children in her condition.” It was during this meeting that Syring was allegedly given the option to resign or be terminated. According to the suit, “the two officials reiterated the policy on premarital sex.” In addition, Lubecke told her that if “she were to get married before the birth of the child, things could be resolved.” Recounting the exchange, Syring said, “School leaders chimed in and said, ‘We’re not trying to rush your relationship, but if you two were to get married, this all goes away.’”

In December 2020, she received a letter of termination, which went into effect on January 8, 2021. Now she is suing the archdiocese for gender discrimination. When commenting on the matter, Stewart Abney, Syring’s attorney, said:

“If a male employee had engaged in the same behavior, it would result in no consequences, because how is the archdiocese to know? Essentially, this leaves the male employees to go on and engage in this similar type of conduct with impunity.”

He added:

“The employee handbook doesn’t control the situation…There are laws in Kentucky, laws in this country that prohibit discrimination against women, and that’s what’s happening here.”

On top of all that, the lawsuit alleges the defendant is “inconsistent in its enforcement of the ‘Christian Witness Policies.’” For example, the suit noted a “former employee at St. Andrew was openly gay, yet school officials did not punish or terminate that unnamed individual.” Additionally, “an unnamed principal is still employed at a school within the archdiocese parochial school system who ‘engaged in an adulterous relationship by having an affair with another woman while married.’

For now, Syring said, “I’m just hoping that they can do the right thing in this situation.”

Sources:

Former Louisville teacher sues archdiocese after she was fired for premarital pregnancy

Unmarried Catholic school teacher says Archdiocese of Louisville fired her over pregnancy

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