Emily Herx, a former teacher at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, sued the school and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese in federal court for firing her because she underwent in vitro fertilization. This lawsuit comes after the EEOC found the diocese violated her civil rights, specifically sexual discrimination, as well as violating the Americans with Disabilities Act as infertility is considered a disability under the law.
According to the lawsuit, she was fired for “improprieties related to church teachings or law.” However, Herx, as a language arts teacher, was not required to complete training in the Catholic faith nor is she a minister. Her supervisors said nothing during her first round of treatment, but during the second she was asked to meet with the Reverand John Kuzmich, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church. During this meeting, the pastor told her he feared that her treatments would cause a scandal and had already filed a complaint about the treatment from another teacher.
The lawsuit asserts that her being fired is solely on her treatment as she received high marks as a teacher. Furthermore, the pastor communicated this as well. During a meeting after she was told her contract would not be renewed, Herx was told she was a “grave, immoral sinner.” However, Herx knowing that the Catholic church condemns destroying embryos, stated that she nor her physician ever destroyed a single embryo. Finally, male teachers have undergone medical treatments such as vasectomies or whose spouses receive fertility treatments and have not been fired for such actions.
Herx is seeking compensation for her financial losses and emotion distress, as well as punitive damages.