A former teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina, has won a lawsuit against his former Catholic employer after claiming he lost his job due to his desire to marry a male partner.
Lonnie Billard had taught drama full-time at Charlotte Catholic High School since 2001, with the occasional substitute assignment. However, when Billard announced that he was going to marry his male partner in 2014, the school informed Billard that they could no longer employ him due to his marriage being contrary to the religious principles of the Catholic Church.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina partnered with Billard to file a lawsuit against the school, claiming that their dismissal of Billard was a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on sex.
On Friday, a federal judge ruled that Charlotte Catholic School and the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte had indeed violated Title VII. District Judge Cogburn ruled that federal laws protecting church autonomy and freedom of association do not protect the school from liability for violating Title VII. Cogburn requested that Charlotte Catholic School pay Billard back-pay and benefits, punitive damages and compensatory damages for emotional distress. He also filed a court order blocking the school from taking similar action in the future.
SOURCE: "Premier Christian News"