INDIANAPOLIS — The Roncalli guidance counselor placed on administrative leave because she is married to a woman has filed a discrimination complaint against the school and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Shelly Fitzgerald says the school told her she needed to either resign or get a divorce after finding out she was married to another woman.
A message posted on Facebook last August, Fitzgerald said somebody found her marriage certificate from Hancock County and gave it to two school officials.
In a meeting with the officials, she says she was given three options:
- Dissolve her marriage
- Wait it out through the rest of the year, but the school wouldn't renew her contract.
The identity of the person who gave the school a copy of her marriage certificate remains a mystery.
After refusing to accept any of those options, Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave where she has remained since August. Her story gained national attention in September, when she appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
"The filing of the charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the first step in initiating litigation against Roncalli and the Archdiocese," a press release from Fitzgerald's attorney stated.
The EEOC is expected to begin their investigation shortly, which could take up to 10 months or more.
The Archdiocese of Indianapolis has released a statement on Fitzgerald's complaint to the EEOC:
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.
You can read a full summary of the allegations and conclusion from Shelly Fitzgerald's attorney below.
SUMMARY OF THE ALLEGATIONS:
The [ACTS OF THE RESPONDENT] constitute intentional discrimination and retaliation by the Respondent based upon the Charging Party’s gender, failure to conform to gender stereotypes, association with another woman (i.e., her wife), and sexual orientation.
While under contract, the Charging Party, by all accounts, performed her job exceptionally well and exceeded all of the Respondent’s expectations. Nevertheless, based upon its belief that it had the right to intentionally discriminate against the Charging Party, the Respondent publicized the Charging Party’s sexual orientation and then ostracized her from her place of employment, her co-workers, and her students.
In doing so, the Respondent also engaged in a series of acts which created a hostile work environment for the Charging Party while she remained under contract. These adverse employment actions, collectively and individually, were taken because of the Charging Party's gender, failure to conform to gender stereotypes, association with another woman, and sexual orientation, all in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 USC 2000e.
On November 15, 2018, Shelly Fitzgerald announced to the local media that negotiations with Roncalli High School and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis had reached an impasse.
Left with no other options, Fitzgerald’s attorney, David Page, declared his intent to initiate litigation with the filing of a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC. On January 7, 2019, he made good on that promise. Since that time, another Roncalli Guidance Counselor, Lynn Starkey, announced that she also was filing a Charge of Discrimination against Roncalli High School for similar reasons.
To date, both women remain employed at Roncalli. However, Starkey, was allowed to remain in her position and continue her duties at the school. Fitzgerald was banned from the Roncalli campus and remains on Administrative Leave.
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