Montana Catholic school fires unmarried pregnant teacher – and says she has no right to sue

Attorneys for a Catholic school in Montana claimed this week that a woman who was fired for being unmarried and pregnant has no right to sue for discrimination, the Associated Press reported.

Former Butte Central teacher Shaela Evenson got pregnant through in vitro fertilization. Her bosses found out in January of 2014, when an anonymous letter arrived for then superintendent of schools for the diocese, Patrick Haggarty, alleging that Evenson “was pregnant and not married.” On January 12, Evenson received an official termination letter from Butte Central, stating that Evenson was out of compliance with her employment contract.

Evenson sued the school and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena for pregnancy discrimination, sex discrimination and breach of contract in 2014.

Attorneys for the school admitted that Evenson was terminated because of her pregnancy, but said she was not protected by federal law prohibiting discrimination because she was a religious employee. “She is a ministerial employee and as such her employment is exempt from Title VII,” they wrote.

By getting pregnant outside the confines of heterosexual marriage, attorneys for the school claim the Catholic teacher was in violation the Catholic school teacher was in violation of her “employment agreement, which required abiding by the moral and religious teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and prohibiting personal conduct or lifestyles at variance with, or contrary to, those teachings.”

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