28 day free trial

28 day free trial

28 day free trial

LawMemo - First in Employment Law

Home MyLawMemo About Us   Arbitrators

Celebrating our 23rd year.  Serving employment lawyers,
HR professionals, union representatives, and labor arbitrators.



On the Alert

Gay teacher's complaint
against Catholic school
should not be dismissed

Payne-Elliott v. Archdiocese of Indianapolis (Indiana Ct App 11/23/2021)
Sent to Custom Alerts™ subscribers on 11/23/2021

Payne-Elliott was a language and social studies teacher at Cathedral High School – an Archdiocese-affiliated Catholic church.

After Cathedral terminated his teaching contract, he alleged as follows: (1) he is a homosexual male, who has been in a same-sex marriage since 2017; (2) he was under a teaching contract at Cathedral in the 2019-2020 calendar year; (3) the Archdiocese issued a directive, wherein Cathedral was required to adopt and enforce morals clause language used in teacher contracts at Archdiocese-recognized schools, was required to discontinue its employment of any teacher in a public, same-sex marriage, and could forfeit being formally recognized as a Catholic school in the Archdiocese by failing to comply with the directive; and (4) Cathedral subsequently terminated Payne-Elliott’s employment.

The trial court dismissed Payne-Elliott’s lawsuit, but the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed. The trial court erred in granting the Archdiocese’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

It was wrong for the trial court to dismiss the case prior to completing discovery on two key issues: (1) whether Payne-Elliott’s job duties as a teacher at an Archdiocese-affiliated school rendered him a “minister”; or (2) whether the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine applies to the case.

It was also wrong to dismiss the case on the basis that Payne-Elliott’s court complaint did not state a legal claim. Pleading rules are relatively liberal. Here, the pleading was legally sufficient. The Court of Appeals could not conclude that Payne-Elliott’s allegations "present no possible set of facts upon which the complainant can recover." Although the complaint might indicate that the Archdiocese has a possible meritorious defense (freedom of association, the doctrine of church autonomy, and the ministerial exception), that does not render Payne-Elliott’s pleading insufficient.

Newest employment law court decisions.
Want them? Get them.
Employment Law Memo gets them to you first.
Custom Alerts™ get them to your exact criteria.
Get four weeks.   Free.   No hassle.   No risk.

28 day free trial



Home  |  MyLawMemo  |  Custom Alerts  |  Newest Cases  |  Key Word Search  
No-obligation trial  |  Arbitrators  |  Law Firms  |  Sample Memos 


Get your 28 day trial now 

Web www.LawMemo.com 
This form will search the LawMemo web site. 
It does not include Key Word Search.