Fired Transgender Teacher Scores Points in Court Case

Marla Krolikowski

Marla Krolikowski

2013 has been the year of the fired LGBT church worker.  We’ve been reporting on the plight of these unjustly dismissed people since the beginning of the year, when we let you know about the story of Mark Krolikowski (as he was then identified), a transgender teacher who was fired after 32 years of employment at St. Francis Preparatory H.S. in Queens, N.Y.   Krolikowski, who now identifies as Marla Krolikowski, brought a legal case against the school.

The Huffington Post reported that Krolikowski won a legal victory in court this week:

“On Monday, a judge reportedly rejected the school’s motion to have the case thrown out and strongly suggested that the opposing parties settle the lawsuit.”

Judge Duane Hart was skeptical that Krolikowski’s gender transition did not factor into her firing, and that the school fired her simply for insubordination, as they claimed:

” ‘Insubordination after 32 years of teaching? And the insubordination seems to coincide with the expression of being transgender?’ the case’s judge skeptically questioned. “

Perhaps more significantly related to other such firings, the judge also dismissed the school’s claim that they could dismiss an employee who acted in a ministerial capacity, known as the “ministerial exception in discrimination law:

“He also rejected a separate motion by St. Francis Preparatory School that claimed Krolikowski was essentially a minister, which would give the school the agency to hire and fire employees disregarding legal interference.”

While the judge’s comment denying insubordination and his ruling against ministerial exception are hopeful signs for Krolikowski’s case, the situation is not yet fully resolved.

Krolikowski’s case looks like it will be one to watch since the questions of religious exemption and ministerial exception are often very important concepts in cases such as this one.  These concepts, designed to protect religious liberty, become very complicated when the people being fired are not even members of the same church that runs the institution.  This happened with Carla Hale, a Methodist teacher fired from a Catholic high school this year, and also with Steav Bates-Congdon, an Episcopal musician fired from a Catholic parish in 2011.  Since their behavior and beliefs were not in accord with Catholic teachings in many areas, one wonders why their adherence to sexual doctrine becomes the deal breaker in employment matters.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

6 replies
  1. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    This unfortunate attempt by the Church…albeit on advice of counsel…to base their case for firing a loyal employee after 32 years of service – coincident with the question of her being transgender, should send up a red flag amongst the Faithful. That being that the Church is hypocritical and will lie in order to achieve its ends – unjust treatment of a person. We witnessed in this in the Pedophilia crisis – the cover up and refusal to cooperate with public officials in bringing criminals to justice – the state of the adult victims (as a children) meant nothing but lip service. Jesus said a person can not serve both God and (mamom – money). Here it is obvious that the Church values the coffer over the Truth Who is Christ ! For shame.

    Reply
  2. Joseph Gentilini
    Joseph Gentilini says:

    Again, church hierarchy discriminates against the GLBT community while mouthing “love, dignity, and acceptance of our lives. Their actions speak louder that their words, which really are empty and immoral.

    Reply
  3. Mark Clark
    Mark Clark says:

    According to a report in LGBTQ Nation (http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/01/transgender-teacher-called-worse-than-gay-sues-catholic-school-over-firing/), Marla “taught music, social studies and a class on human sexuality.” Even if the subject had been scripture or theology, the teaching job would not have constituted ministerial work in the meaning of the statutory protection of religious institutions’ right to be discriminatory. And anyway, why do my fellow Catholics who are trusted with hiring and firing authority so often seem drawn to positions of exclusion and hate as their high moral ground rather than to where Jesus would have been comfortable?

    Reply

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  1. […] recourse for terminated employees at religious institutions, although a recent ruling in favor of a transgender educator could be changing this reality. Regardless, Smith admits he cares less about the legality of […]

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