On this Easter Monday, Bondings 2.0 offers two positive updates regarding church workers and incidents of anti-LGBT discrimination.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a letter, dated January 30, stating that Flint Dollar was likely discriminated against when fired from Macon, Georgia Catholic school where he taught. The Telegraph reports:
“[The] Commission has determined ‘there is reasonable cause to conclude’ that fired Mount de Sales Academy band director Flint Dollar was discriminated against because of his sexual orientation.”
Now, the EEOC will attempt “informal methods of conciliation,” but if these fail either the Commission or Dollar could file a lawsuit against the high school. Dollar was fired in 2014 after his plans to marry a male partner became known, with the school then clarifying that he was fired for the marriage and not for being gay.
What is interesting about this case, though, is neither federal nor state laws protected Dollar from discrimination due to his sexual orientation; the former band director filed a discrimination claim through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits gender discrimination. At the time he filed the claim, Bondings 2.0 noted that previous claims in that vein had failed, but perhaps Dollar’s case is setting new precedents.
It was also noted that Mount de Sales Academy had a non-discrimination policy inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and marital status, and was known for its progressive history of racial and religious integration. In light of the EEOC’s finding, administrators should return to this historical roots, admit to the discrimination which occurred, and seek justice for Flint Dollar.
Immaculata High School
Patricia Jannuzzi’s job at Immaculata High School in New Jersey is in dispute, following her anti-gay posting to Facebook last month. Regardless, Bishop Paul Bootkoski of the Diocese of Metuchen, where the school is located, was clear that he finds Jannuzzi’s comments “disturbing.”
Jannuzzi’s sons, who set up a fundraising page seeking $100,000, are claiming their mother was not rehired for the 2015-2016 school year. A spokesperson for the diocese denied these claims, saying they were “baffled and disappointed” that the fundraising site contained misinformation. Bishop Bootkoski clarified the situation to MyCentralNewJersey.com:
“However, she has never been terminated, as some media outlets have reported. She has been put on administrative leave. There has been no interruption in her pay and benefits. We regret that certain individuals and groups are using inaccurate media reports to push their own agendas.’ “
Bootkoski also added :
” ‘The teacher’s comments were disturbing and do not reflect the Church’s teachings of acceptance…
” ‘We are a compassionate Catholic community committed to treating our students, faculty and parishioners with respect. We have never wavered from our traditional Catholic teachings…Pope Francis reminds us that we are to accept all of our brethren. We must ensure that our educators steer away from harsh and judgmental statements that can alienate and divide us.’ “
Bishop Bootkoski is now being targeted by conservative anti-gay groups for being honest about Jannuzzi’s remarks, which are pastorally damaging and contradict Catholic teaching. These groups have taken out radio aids attacking the bishop. Instead, Bishop Bootkoski and Immaculata administrators should be commended for swift action in response to the religion teacher’s harsh statements.
Much remains to be seen about the outcome of Flint Dollar and Patricia Jannuzzi’s cases. Still, as the Easter season begins, these are positive signs that some Catholic institutions are, albeit slowly, becoming more inclusive and accepting places for all.
For Bondings 2.0‘s full coverage of these and other LGBT-related church worker disputes, click the ‘Employment Issues‘ category to the right or here. You can click here to find a full listing of the more than 40 incidents since 2008 where church workers have lost their jobs over LGBT identity, same-sex marriages, or public support for equal rights.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry