Discrimination | Teacher fired for 'refusing to have an abortion'

Teacher fired for 'refusing to have an abortion'

A catholic school has become embroiled in a serious HR dispute after an unmarried teacher was fired for refusing to get an abortion upon falling pregnant.

The teacher in question, named as Missouri, US, resident Michelle Bollen in the ongoing lawsuit against St Therese Catholic School in Kansas City, was told by the school’s senior management Father Jospeh Cisetti that her only option was to go against ‘catholic teaching’ and undergo an abortion, in which case the school could have avoided ‘the scandal of an unmarried pregnant teacher’.

He also told Bollen that ‘Pregnancy is not the problem; fornication is the problem’. 

The teacher’s attorney, named as EE Keenan in the case, told local paper the Kansas City-Star that Cisetti’s willingness to forgo the school’s religious practices and order a staff member to undergo such a procedure is not only hypocritical, it’s also in direct violation of the 1986 Missouri Abortion Act, which protects women from being fired for refusing to have an abortion. “He’s basically speaking out of both sides of his mouth,” Keenan stated.

However, the lawyers of the school’s management, the Diocese of St Therese, state that the move was justified as Bollen’s employment contract states that, ‘in carrying out these solemn responsibilities as a teacher, I will conduct myself in a manner that does not contradict her doctrinal and moral teachings (of the Catholic Church)’.

It adds that Bolen should ‘carry out responsibilities faithfully and in accordance with the requirements of church law’.

Whilst jurors are set to decide whether Bolen, who was under the employment of the school for over 15 years at the time of her dismissal, was unfairly dismissed from her role later this month, this isn’t the first time religious beliefs caused HR issues at work. In July, HR Grapevine reported on a case in which a Pharmacist refused to dispense emergency contraception on a Sunday because it went against their beliefs.

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Following the incident, employer LloydsPharmacy apologised for the ‘distress and frustration caused by the experience’, however, the company explained that the case adhered to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) guidelines that ‘allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense medication that goes against their personal beliefs if there is adequate alternative care available for the patient’.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it states that it is unlawful to discriminate against or treat someone unfairly because of a religion or belief. Employees are protected against discrimination because they have a religious faith or a philosophical belief.

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Comments (1)

  • Sir
    Wed, 18 Sep 2019 1:18pm BST
    I love these cases = they must have the equality/religious lobbies up in knots as they can't quite decide which 'snowflake factor' trumps the other !
    However, it appears that religions can discriminate all they like and get away with it. This is truly Medieval !

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