Church attorneys: pregnant Montana teacher who was fired can't sue for discrimination

Attorneys for a Roman Catholic Diocese and a Catholic school say a Montana teacher fired for having a baby out of wedlock was a ministerial employee who can't sue for discrimination.

Former Butte Central teacher Shaela Evenson is accusing the school and diocese of pregnancy discrimination, sex discrimination and breach of contract for her January 2014 firing.

Attorneys for the school and diocese filed their response to the lawsuit on Monday. They say a religious exemption in federal law prohibits discrimination claims from being filed by ministerial employees.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says ministerial employees perform essentially religious functions.

Evenson taught literature and physical education to middle-school students. But the school and diocese say the exemption applies because she led a class prayer and attended Mass.