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News: Third Circuit Decision Favors Catholic School Employers

Third Circuit Decision Favors Catholic School Employers
Curay-Cramer vs. Ursuline Academy, et al

Michele Curay-Cramer, a teacher at the Ursuline Academy, a private, Catholic school, was fired after she signed her name to a pro-choice advertisement in the local newspaper.

Ms. Curay-Cramer filed three federal claims in District Court, alleging that her conduct was protected under Title VII and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act ("PDA"), and that she was fired for conduct less egregious under Catholic doctrine than conduct of male employees who were treated less harshly.

The District Court granted the defendants' motions to dismiss Ms. Curay-Cramer's claims. The Court concluded that applying Title VII and the PDA would raise serious constitutional questions and that Congress did not manifest a clear legislative intent that Title VII be applied in a case like Curay-Cramer's.

She appealed this decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. On June 7, 2006, the Third Circuit affirmed the judgment of the District Court in dismissing her claims.

The Third Circuit concluded that Ms. Curay-Cramer failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted with respect to the first two counts of her complaint because signing the pro-choice advertisement was not protected conduct under Title VII.

The Third Circuit stated that her third count failed because Congress has not clearly expressed an intention to apply Title VII to a situation where it is impossible to avoid inquiry into a religious employer's religious mission or the plausibility of its religious justification for an employment decision.

This is a good result for administrators of Catholic schools. If you have any questions, please call Michael S. Piotrowicz at (215) 587-0134.

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