Diocese Cleared, Fort Wayne Teacher Argues Discrimination

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO):  The Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic diocese did not violate the rights of a teacher after she sought treatments for infertility, according to a U.S. District Judge.

On Wednesday, Judge Robert L. Miller ruled the local Catholic diocese was not in the wrong by refusing to renew teacher Emily Herx's contract. However, the language arts teacher says her termination may have been due to sexual discrimination.

The Journal Gazette reports Herx sued the diocese in spring 2012, claiming she had been the victim of discrimination when diocesan officials fired her from her teaching job at St. Vincent de Paul School when she underwent in vitro fertilization. She argues her termination was in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Despite Herx's issues with infertility, in vitro fertilization is banned under the Catholic doctrine. This rule applies to all women, as long as they are employed under a religious organization . Diocese officials argue the decision was strictly religious based. Her'x attorney say she was the victim of discrimination because the church did not approve of the manner in which she tried to become pregnant.

In his Wednesday ruling, Miller said the federal civil rights law does not give religious organizations the “freedom to make discriminatory decisions on the basis of race, sex, or national origin.”

Herx is looking for reimbursement on both wages and damages in the case. A jury will decide whether the diocese's decision to fire Herx was gender-based, considering the treatment has never been considered for a male teacher.