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Ohio teacher files grievance, claims she was fired because she is gay

BOB VITALE | Outlook Columbus
Thursday, April 18, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A popular Columbus, Ohio, physical education teacher and coach who says she was fired because she is gay, has filed a grievance through her union against the Catholic Diocese of Columbus, according to her attorney.

Carla Hale taught for 19 years at Bishop Watterson High School in Columbus, but was fired on March 28 — Holy Thursday for Catholics — just one month after church officials received an anonymous letter pointing to a newspaper obituary for Hale’s mother that listed the teacher’s partner as a member of her family.

Carla Hale

In addition to the grievance process through her union, the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, Hale has the option of filing a complaint with the Columbus Community Relations Commission, a city-sanctioned body that investigates allegations of discrimination.

Although there is no federal law nor any state law in Ohio that bans discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, city ordinances ban such bias in Columbus.

Meanwhile, support for Hale continues to grow.

A Change.org petition started by a Watterson student has topped 15,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, and Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman posted Hale’s photo on his Facebook page Thursday with the message, “I stand with Carla Hale in her fight to get her job back. No one in Columbus or in the United States should be denied employment because of who they love.”

Neither Bishop Frederick Campbell, Watterson Principal Marian Hutson nor the Catholic Diocese of Columbus has issued any statement. A spokesman said Tuesday that the church doesn’t comment on personnel matters.

But school officials might be forced to address their actions, however.

Officials in the office of City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr., said the process is complaint-driven, though, and would be triggered only if Hale pursues a case.

Hale’s attorney, Thomas Tootle, told Outlook Columbus that is an option, and doesn’t rule out filing suit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

The contract between Hale’s union and the Catholic Diocese of Columbus gives the church the option to terminate contracts “at any time for gross inefficiency or immorality, for serious unethical conduct, or for willful and/or persistent violations of reasonable regulations of the school or the Diocesan Office of Catholic Schools.”

Hale told the Columbus Dispatch she was called to a conference room on March 12, the day she returned to school after her mother’s death, and handed a copy of an anonymous letter pointing out that a newspaper obituary for Hale’s mother included the name “Julie” in parentheses after her own.

She said the subject wasn’t mentioned again until March 28, when she was fired 20 minutes before the end of the school day.

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20 more reader comments:

  1. go gettem! They deserve to be taken to the wood shed

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:24pm
  2. That happened to me, and then the company went bankrupt!

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:25pm
  3. think she was fired for being gay too – look at the timing of events — nothing else it can be no matter what lie the church comes up with

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:26pm
  4. When you work for a private Catholic school, usually you sign a ‘morals’ clause which prevents out homosexuals from teaching. Likely this was this case here, and taking employment there was a risk. Not saying it’s right, but the school was likely within their rights.

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:27pm
  5. Good luck

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:28pm
  6. She should file. Good for her!

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:28pm
  7. Forget filinga grievance, sue them!

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:29pm
  8. Hmm. So, if she knew the policy and went along with it, anyway, she may have a lot of trouble winning her case.

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:31pm
  9. Good. If hundreds of thousands of Americans were as brave as you…. we would live in a different world. Never shut up! Never back down! Just be you!

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:31pm
  10. This young lady deserves to get her job back!!

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:36pm
  11. i know of a lesbian who is a teacher and works in music at a catholic church..she said they use the don’t ask don’t tell policy

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:38pm
  12. She worked for a Catholic School?… sorry, not a chance. The Catholic will just get away with another unjust, unfair, but otherwise legal action.

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:43pm
  13. Go after those bums and get your job back!

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:43pm
  14. I tried signing, but it is not clear what information other than name email address: keep getting an error message.

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:44pm
  15. clearly discrimination based on sexual preference which is now illegal

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 6:15pm
  16. Justice must!

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 6:32pm
  17. Because she worked for a known homophobic organization.

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 7:12pm
  18. How terrible! The worst part is that the school will more than likely get away with it since the teacher had to sign a “moral contract” of some sort, from what I understand…

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 8:28pm
  19. Why in hell would she/you work for an organization that not only hates you but actively lobbies (tax-free of course unlike other PAC) against you and your family.

    Posted on Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 8:29pm
  20. hang in there. u have alot of support

    Posted on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 5:21am