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Teacher sues church over pregnancy firing

Published: Thursday, January 03, 2013 @ 1:53 PM
Updated: Thursday, January 03, 2013 @ 1:53 PM

A former first-grade teacher at Kettering’s Ascension Catholic School is suing the school, Ascension Church and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati in federal court, saying officials discriminated against her a year ago when they fired the unmarried woman after she told the principal about her pregnancy.

Kathleen Quinlan of Kettering, who has since delivered twin girls, said in the Dec. 14 lawsuit that her firing for moral reasons was discriminatory because male employees who engage in premarital sex don’t face the same consequences “insomuch as they do not show outward signs of engaging in sexual intercourse (i.e., pregnancy).”

Quinlan was hired on July 25, 2011, and started work on Aug. 11, 2011. She became pregnant that fall, according to the lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

On Dec. 29, 2011, as her pregnancy was becoming apparent, she met with Principal Brett Devitt, told him about her pregnancy and offered to “take a ‘behind the scenes’ role at Ascension until she gave birth,” the lawsuit said. Devitt told her that “Ascension would do everything possible to support her,” the suit said, but that he needed to confer with Ascension Pastor Chris Worland and officials of the 19-county archdiocese, which runs the Catholic school system.

In a second meeting later that day, Worland and Devitt “told Ms. Quinlan that, after relating her pregnancy to the archdiocese, it was decided she could no longer work for Ascension School,” according to the lawsuit. She was told to clean out her classroom within three days, so her replacement could begin on Jan. 3. Her firing was effective Dec. 31, 2011, and she consequently lost her medical insurance in January.

A Dec. 31 termination letter told Quinlan she was fired for violating a section of her employment contract that requires employees to “comply with and act consistently in accordance with the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church,” the lawsuit said. Quinlan’s attorney argued that, “as a non-ministerial employee, (she) was not subject to a ‘morality clause.’”

Worland referred a request for comment to the archdiocese whose spokesman, Dan Andriacco, said he couldn’t comment because legal counsel was unavailable for consultation this week. Quinlan and Devitt did not respond to requests for comment.

Quinlan is seeking back pay, compensatory damages for emotional distress and punitive damages “to punish and deter Ascension School and Archdiocese of Cincinnati from engaging in discriminatory activity,” plus attorney fees.

“Pregnancy discrimination is illegal,” said James Hardiman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. “The issue is clouded somewhat because this is a religious institution.”

The ACLU was involved in a 1986 case against Dayton Christian Schools that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case set precedent allowing government investigation of discrimination cases by religious institutions.

Quinlan isn’t the only Catholic school teacher to sue a diocese in recent times over a reproductive issue.

The Cincinnati archdiocese is facing a pending federal lawsuit similar to Quinlan’s, filed by former parochial teacher Christa Dias of Clermont County. The 2011 lawsuit claims the single woman was fired after she became pregnant through artificial insemination.

Dias was fired by the Rev. James Kiffmeyer, who was suspended from 2002-2006 on allegations of sexual misconduct against two male students in separate incidents while he was a teacher at Middletown’s Fenwick High School. The complainants were 18 when the incidents occurred, and Kiffmeyer was reinstated. The archdiocese reached a financial settlement with one of the accusers.

In Indiana, Emily Herx made national headlines in April when she sued the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend in federal court, saying the diocese discriminated against the married teacher when officials fired her for having in vitro fertilization treatments. Diocesan officials say the procedure is “gravely immoral.” She said other employees violate Catholic teachings without consequence. The lawsuit is pending.

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U.S. Navy sailor sketched Pearl Harbor attack before he was killed in action

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 8:40 AM

VIDEO: Sailor Sketched Pearl Harbor Attack Before He was Killed in Action

Leonard Franklin Tomlinson lived and served in an age before social media, and the image he left behind is less ephemeral and certainly more meaningful than the slew of selfies we all serve up today.

>> PHOTOS: 'December 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy'

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Boy exchanges prized Christmas gift to help homeless 

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 8:46 AM

Boy Gives Up Game Console To Help Those In Need For Holidays

An Xbox is tops for many gamers’ holiday wish lists. 

Mikah Frye was no different, until he noticed homeless people outside during the cold Ohio weather.

His grandmother said he asked what homeless people do when it’s cold outside. So he came up with an answer: giving those who needed them a blanket to stave off the chill, WJW reported.

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But he needed to find out how to pay for the gifts.

His grandmother suggested he give up one gift to help warm the homeless.

“He later said if the Xbox is $300, and the blankets are $10 then I can buy 30 blankets,” Mikah’s grandmother, Terry Brant,  told WJW.

Mikah’s family found themselves in a similar situation a few years ago. They had some financial difficulties and lost their home and had shelter thanks to the Access program, WJW reported.  

So far more than 60 blankets have been donated and have started to be given out to families in need. Each one has a message from Mikah that says, “They gave me a blanket, but I had to leave it. That’s why I want you to have your own blanket.”

He ends his note with “Today, I live in my own house, and someday you will too. Your friend Mikah.”

And while Mikah gave up his dream of an Xbox for those who need help, WJW reported that “Santa” is still trying to get the video game for the selfless child.

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 23: Guests get to check out the new Xbox One at the Microsoft Store with Chicago Bulls Legend Scottie Pippen at The Shops at North Bridge on November 23, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Microsoft)(Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Microsoft)

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Fire department recreates adorable holiday card one year later

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

FiredogPhotos via iStock
FiredogPhotos via iStock

A fire department in Oklahoma is warming hearts again with their special holiday card.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Last year, the Durant Fire Department went viral with their 2016 holiday card, which featured children of the firefighters.

Six of the station’s 33 firefighters welcomed new babies within six months of each another.

This year, the department decided to keep the tradition going with an “updated” photo.

Babies Ava, Owen, Nash, Mitchell, Gus and Brevyn donned matching outfits on their fathers’ firetruck.

Gus’ mother, Shembra Wilson, told ABC News, “It was a lot harder this year because they’re more mobile. We’re all jumping up and down acting like morons to get the shot and they’re looking at us like, ‘What in the world?’”

The department has decided to continue the tradition annually “to watch them grow.”

Firefighters Set Up Adorable Shoot for Holiday Card

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Five tips to keep your holiday packages safe from porch pirates

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 11:55 AM

How to Avoid Package Theft

Online shopping has made life easier for a lot of us and is especially handy during the holidays, but it’s also created more opportunities for thieves to prey on parcels left on our doorsteps.

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So beware the so-called porch pirates. They count on our being lax, but a little preparation can help thwart their plans and leave them empty-handed, said Gary Miliefsky, CEO of SnoopWall , a company that specializes in cybersecurity.

“A more sophisticated porch pirate might send you an SMS message or email with malware,” Miliefsky said. “That would let them gain access to your computer or smartphone, and they could install a RAT (Remote Access Trojan). Then, they can eavesdrop on your orders and deliveries.”

They also might be able to locate you through the geolocating feature on your phone, he said. That would tell them when you are away from home, providing the final link in their well-laid plan.

Police tell us thieves mark their calendars with notes that say such things as  "Package theft Wednesday."

“If they know you aren’t home and that a package is scheduled for delivery, it’s going to be easy for them to steal it,” Miliefsky said.

There are, however, ways around even cybercriminals. Miliefsky offers these tips for outwitting porch pirates and keeping packages safe:

• Get permission to ship all your packages to work. That way, they aren’t left unguarded at your doorstep for hours while anyone walking by could snatch them. If this arrangement works out, be sure to tell all your friends and family members to ship packages to your work address.

• Ask a friend or neighbor to receive your packages for you. You might not be home on workdays, but plenty of people are. Trusted friends who are retired or who work at home might be happy to let you have packages delivered to them for safekeeping.

• If a neighbor can’t receive your packages and you can’t get them at work, another option is available. Miliefsky suggests trying Doorman, a service that lets you arrange for a package to be held at a warehouse until you arrive home. Then you can arrange delivery for evening hours that better suit you.

• Disable geolocation on your smartphone so that thieves – or other hackers, for that matter – can’t track your location. There’s no need to make it easier for them.

• Set up a live recording video camera aimed at your porch. That could allow you to spot a theft as it happens and alert law enforcement officials, or at least provide you with video that might help identify the thieves.

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