By Mark Labbe
MILTON, Mass. (CNS) – A Massachusetts judge ruled that a Catholic high school discriminated against a man because of his sexual orientation after the school officials rescinded a job offer upon learning he was in a same-sex marriage.
Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Douglas H. Wilkins said in a Dec. 16 ruling that Fontbonne Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Milton, had violated the rights of Matthew Barrett in July, 2013 when it rescinded its job offer for him to become food service director because the position does not include “formally presenting the gospel values or the … teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Barrett’s lawsuit said the offer was withdrawn days after he had accepted the position and completed an employee new hire form on which he listed his husband, Ed Suplee, as his emergency contact.
Barrett originally filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in January, 2014, alleging discrimination by the school, which was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. The case was moved to Massachusetts Superior Court in May, 2014. An attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, represented Barrett.
Fontbonne Academy defended its action, arguing that as a Catholic institution it has control of its mission and message, and Barrett’s same-sex marriage was inconsistent with that message. The school also said that Barrett was aware that all employees at the school are asked to further the Catholic message.
The school noted that during Barrett’s job interview, he had been asked if he would be a “minister of the mission” and model Catholic teachings and principles and he had said he would. Barrett completed the new employee form only after being offered the position.
“The undisputed facts establish the employer’s motivation with unparalleled clarity. Fontbonne declined to hire a qualified food service employee because he was a spouse in a same-sex marriage,” Wilkins wrote.