Consider this scenario. A Catholic school, part of a metropolitan archdiocese, hires a schoolteacher who voluntarily signs a contract that includes this central requirement: The teacher will “comply with and act consistently in accordance with the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and the policies and directives of the School and the Archdiocese.” When the unmarried teacher (who, by the way, hid her homosexuality from her employer) becomes pregnant by artificial insemination, the school fires her for violating her contract. She claims discrimination, files suit — and wins.
That is the story of Christa Dias, technology coordinator for two Catholic schools in Cincinnati, Ohio, who was awarded $171,000 in back pay and damages by a federal jury on Monday. The Associated Press reports that “Dias, who is not Catholic, testified she didn’t know artificial insemination violated church doctrine or her employment pact. She said she thought the contract clause about abiding by church teachings meant she should be a Christian and follow the Bible.”
There is an argument to be made, perhaps, that the terms of the contract were improper or illegal, but Dias offered no such argument. She simply claimed that the application of those terms became oppressive when it began to interfere with her desired lifestyle. The verdict in her favor, which is being hailed as a victory for “equality” and women’s rights, sets a precedent that threatens religious employers, already under assault from the federal government’s HHS mandate.
Dias told reporters that “she pursued the lawsuit ‘for the sake of other women’ who might find themselves in a similar situation.” But that sanctimonious pretext sidesteps the simple fact that it was a voluntary contract. Not only can other women easily avoid finding themselves in a “similar situation” by, you know, not signing documents they disagree with, but Dias herself never had to be in it, had she simply taken a moment to understand the terms of the contract before slapping her signature to it.
It is depressing that a federal jury rewarded what was either her stupidity or her duplicity.