Mediation No Longer an Option for Helping Former Church Employees in Chicago
Saturday, December, 5, 2015
The archdiocese of Chicago recently refused to take part in mediation to help it solve two disputes with former employees. The employees levied human rights complaints against the church after they were fired last year by their pastor. The men believe the reason they were asked to resign and then terminated was due to their sexual orientation. The men worked at different parishes, but were a couple. Their termination came after news of their wedding was made public.
Following the terminations the men filed complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and also with their county and state human rights departments.
Mediation would have provided both the church and the couple an opportunity to share their grievances and work through the issue in private. The archdiocese did not respond to the offer for mediation.
The men have been a couple for 15 years and were married at a Chicago Episcopal church in 2014. A few days after the wedding one of the men’s pastors called him into a meeting and asked if he was married. He confirmed the marriage, to which the pastor responded, “This is bad.” The men claim the pastor knew of their plans to marry and had asked a year earlier if that was their intention. The men claim at that time the pastor encouraged it, but pointed out their marriage was against church teachings. The pastor has since stated the men were fired not because of their relationship, but because of their marriage.
Now that mediation is no longer an option, the dispute will likely move to formal hearings and could eventually wind up in court.