MACON, Ga. — The former band director and music instructor at a Macon, Ga., Catholic school has filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming gender discrimination after he was fired over his plans to marry another man.
Since neither federal law nor state law in Georgia expressly forbids employers from discriminating against gays, Dollar cites gender discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act as the basis of his lawsuit, reports NPR.
He says his sexual orientation was never a secret at Mount de Sales Academy, and that he was clear with church leaders when he was hired that he is gay.
But in May, on the last day of school, Dollar was called in to see the school president: “I was told that … the bishop of the Diocese of Savannah called and expressed his concern that if I was to return it would be against the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
“I was told that there were no student complaints, no parent complaints. There was nothing in my personnel file,” said Dollar. “It was not because I’m gay, but because I am marrying my partner, I will not be allowed to return.”
Dollar’s attorney, Charles Cox, says his client was penalized for not conforming to gender stereotypes.
Article continues below“When you fire somebody because they are engaging in a same-sex marriage, I think that pretty clearly fits with gender discrimination,” says Cox. “You’re being fired because you’re not complying with traditional gender stereotypes, and that’s wrong, and we believe it’s unlawful.”
Cox makes an argument used in another civil rights case brought by Peter TerVeer, a federal employee at the Library of Congress who claimed that he faced discrimination after his boss found out that he was gay.
“His romantic or intimate interest in men is something that the women workers at the office were not penalized for, but he was,” says LGBT rights attorney Greg Nevins, who is assisting in that case. “[TerVeer] made that claim in federal district court, and the court allowed it to proceed, despite a motion to dismiss by the Department of Justice.”
Dollar says he does not plan to return to the school even if he wins the suit.