June 5, 2013 — A federal district court jury on Monday ordered the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati to pay $171,000 in damages for violating U.S. anti-discrimination laws by firing a Catholic school teacher who became pregnant through artificial insemination, Reuters reports (Driehaus, Reuters, 6/3).
According to the AP/Los Angeles Times, Christa Dias -- a computer teacher -- was fired in 2010 after she notified the school about her pregnancy.
Steven Goodin, the attorney for the archdiocese and school, said Dias was fired because she violated her contract, which required her to comply with the Catholic Church's philosophies and teachings. The church considers artificial insemination immoral and a violation of its doctrine, the AP/Times reports.
Robert Klingler, Dias' attorney, argued that she was fired merely for being unmarried and pregnant. Dias also argued that the archdiocese does not equally enforce its policies against men and women (AP/Los Angeles Times, 6/3).
The jury awarded Dias $71,000 in lost wages and emotional distress damages, as well as $100,000 in punitive damages.
Archdiocese spokesperson Dan Andriacco said the archdiocese is "disappointed" by the verdict and it needs to "study it before we decide whether to appeal." He said terminating employees for violations of the morality clause is "not a particularly rare occurrence," but "[w]hat is rare is our being sued for it" (Reuters, 6/3).