Joshua Payne-Elliot worked as a teacher at a cathedral school for 10 years in Indiana. In 2019, Joshua was fired from his position because he got married to someone of the same sex. The archdiocese believes that same-sex marriage is against their religion, and therefore should not be promoted (nor supported) within their school system. Joshua believes he has been the target of discrimination based upon his sexual orientation. Joshua sued the archdiocese in the court case Joshua Payne-Elliott v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Inc. The court case was recently dismissed on May 7, 2021 because the court decided that it was against the first amendment to interfere with the religious elements of a cathedral school.
Luke Goldrich, from the Becket Fund of Religious Liberty, which represented the archdiocese said, “If the First Amendment means anything, it means the government can’t punish the Catholic Church for asking Catholic educators to support Catholic teaching. This has always been a very simple case because the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed the freedom of religious schools to choose teachers who support their religious faith.”
The previous rulings denied a dismissal attempt by the defendants due to jurisprudence. Joshua Elliot-Payne’s attorney said, “We are very disappointed in the new trial judge’s ruling, which lacks any explanation, reasoning, or rationale for reversing the prior trial judge’s well-reasoned, lengthy opinion on the same issues in the same case, where he denied the motion for judgment on the pleadings in all respects.”
Laws involved in this Case
In June of 2020 the Supreme Court ruled on the case Bostock v Clayton County in a 6-3 decision that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community. So in a public school, the firing of Joshua Payne-Elliot would be considered wrongful termination. However since the school has a religious mission, the first amendment is relevant here. The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” The government is not supposed to intervene with religious establishments, which is why the court ruled in favor of the archdiocese.
Pride Week and Continued Discrimination
As we celebrate pride week and all of the accomplishments that the LGBTQ+ community has achieved over the years, it is important to note cases like this, where the LGBTQ+ community is still experiencing discrimination. Hopefully this week shed some light on the reasons to keep fighting for LGBTQ+ equality.
Seek Legal Assistance Today
If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace for being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, seek legal assistance from the Law Office of Christopher Q. Davis, located in New York City. Contact us today at (201) 500-3759 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.
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