Roncalli guidance counselor suspended over same-sex marriage files discrimination complaint against school, archdiocese
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A Roncalli guidance counselor placed on administrative leave because of her marital status has filed a discrimination charge against the school and Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
The charge was filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on Jan. 7, 2019, and represents the first step in filing a lawsuit against Roncalli and the Archdiocese.
Shelly Fitzgerald’s story first came to light in August, when she said the school suspended her after discovering she was married to a woman. Fitzgerald has worked at the school for 15 years and has been with the same partner for 22 years.
The school said her same-sex marriage is a violation of her contract with the school. Fitzgerald said she was given the option to dissolve her marriage, resign or quietly serve out the rest of her contract with the knowledge that it wouldn’t be renewed.
She said she had “no intention of resigning” and anticipated litigation against the school. In September, Fitzgerald’s story gained national attention when it appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
Fitzgerald and her attorneys allege the school and Archdiocese believed they had “the right to intentionally discriminate” against Fitzgerald and also created a hostile work environment.
According to Fitzgerald’s attorneys, the EEOC will conduct an investigation into the case, a process that can take, on average, about 10 months. After the agency makes its determination, Fitzgerald will then have 90 days to decide whether to file suit in federal court.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis responded with the following statement:
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Roncalli High School have neither discriminated against Shelly Fitzgerald nor created a “hostile work environment.” Ms. Fitzgerald signed and agreed to a ministerial job description in her employment contract that she live in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Ms. Fitzgerald has acknowledged that she breached her contract by entering into a marriage that is not valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. She remains an employee of Roncalli High School and is on paid administrative leave.