Fired for being pregnant and unmarried — NJ court says it’s legal
🏫 A NJ art teacher was fired at a Catholic school for having premarital sex
🏫 New Jersey's Supreme Court says the firing was justified
🏫 Teacher knew she violated Catholic law, court says
A landmark New Jersey State Supreme Court ruling has upheld the firing of a Catholic school teacher because she was pregnant and unmarried.
In 2014, art teacher Victoria Crisitello was fired from her job at St. Teresa School in Kenilworth after she revealed to the school principal that she was pregnant and unmarried.
A short time later, Crisitello was called into the principal's office and informed that she was being terminated for violating the school's code of ethics by engaging in premarital sex.
Crisitello sued the school for violating New Jersey's discrimination laws.
For nearly a decade, this case has wound through the courts surviving dismissals and reinstatements by multiple courts.
In their opinion, New Jersey Supreme Court justices ruled the state's anti-discrimination laws did not apply in this case. The Catholic school, the justices wrote, is a religious entity and was following the tenets of its faith.
An attorney for Crisitello argued that she was not "a minister" and as a part-time art teacher, she could not be held to the same "ministerial exception" made under the state's anti-discrimination laws.
The Supreme Court disagreed, saying as part of her employment, Crisitello knew St. Teresa's required adherence to Catholic law. "Crisitello knowingly violated Catholic law," wrote Justice Lee Solomon.
Crisitello could attempt an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her attorney did not comment after the Supreme Court issued its ruling.
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