A San Antonio teacher plans to sue her former employer, a Catholic high school, saying she was fired for marrying a man who had been divorced, a proceeding not recognized by the Catholic Church, the San Antonio Express-News reported Tuesday.
Marquis LaFortune, 25, filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after her Nov. 22 ceremony. She claims that once the school found out her fiancé had been divorced, Deacon Patrick Cunningham told her she had three options: seek an annulment, resign or be fired.
“I would have resigned if I'd felt like I'd done something wrong,” LaFortune told the Express-News last week. “I couldn't get out of bed. It's just been this cloud. It was supposed to be the best week of my life, and I had to pull myself together for the ceremony.”
Central Catholic High School said federal law upholds the institution's decision.
“We have very clear policies on what we expect from Catholic people on our faculty, and there has been a violation of that,” Brother Peter Pontolillo told the Express-News. “When a person does something that is obviously contrary to everything that our Catholic school stands for, we cannot just look through our fingers.”
Raised in the Catholic faith, LaFortune had transferred to her fiancé's nondenominational church before the conflict unfolded, the Express-News reported.
Since Central Catholic High School regularly hires non-Catholic teachers, LaFortune argued that since she no longer attended a Catholic church, she should not be held accountable to the church's laws.
The school was not persuaded.
“Do you know what the definition of scandal is?” Pontolillo told the Express-News. “If I present myself as Catholic to an institution that's Catholic, and I practice that Catholicism in the institution by attending school Masses and receiving communion and then suddenly make a decision that is published that [I am] now going to go against that Catholicism.”
LaFortune found out on her honeymoon that her husband's previous marriage had, in fact, been annulled. She plans to fight the school's decision and file a lawsuit.