Curay-Cramer v. The Ursuline Academy of Wilmington, Delaware, Inc., et al.

On November 16, 2004, the Employment Law Department received word that a federal court dismissed all of the Plaintiffs claims in Curay-Cramer v. The Ursuline Academy and the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, et al.

Chair of the Employment Department, Barry M. Willoughby, Partner, Tim Houseal, and Associate, Mike Stafford successfully defended Ursuline against claims that the school discriminated against a teacher in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when it terminated her for signing a "Pro-Choice" advertisement.

The case raised fundamental issues concerning the constitutional rights of religious institutions to be free from government interference in the teaching of religious principles. Willoughby said that, "The opinion is an important victory for religious freedom because it preserves the rights of religious schools and religious institutions to instill students with their religious values."

Among other things, the opinion states: "The Plaintiff's proposed construction of Title VII as preventing a Catholic school from disciplining a religion teacher who publicly repudiates a central tenet of the Catholic faith raises constitutional concerns in the starkest terms. With only slight disguise, it calls for court-imposed value judgments about religious doctrine and court supervision of church discipline Short of a declaration that the Pope should pass draft encyclicals through the courts for approval, it is hard to conceive of a more obvious violation of the free exercise rights of the Catholic Church or a clearer case of inappropriate entanglement of church and state."