Teacher fired for social media posts sues Catholic school

A Catholic school teacher whose social media posts espoused views contrary to those of the Church is suing the school, where she had worked for 16 years, for firing her.

Elizabeth Cox is seeking financial compensation as well as reinstatement as a teacher at the school. The school has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit.

Although, in common with other staff, she signed a contract with the school agreeing to speak publicly and to act in accordance with Catholic beliefs, Cox is claiming her First Amendment rights have been violated.

The staff contract also says the agreement applies regardless of whether the signatory is Catholic, to aid in the “intellectual and spiritual development of students according to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Roman Catholic Church.”

Cox says her firing “violates political rights and privileges of free speech guaranteed by the United States Constitution and/or the Constitution of the State of South Carolina.”

Furthermore, she says her firing violates South Carolina law which prohibits firing employees for expressing political opinions.

The events leading up to Cox’s dismissal began when she shared several Facebook posts and links expressing pro-choice views. Her Facebook information at the time listed as her employer the Catholic school where she was teaching.

Cox’s social media posts included a quotation from feminist activist Gloria Steinem asserting gun purchasers should be subjected to rigorous screenings similar to those of women seeking abortions.

She also posted an unattributed quotation casting suspicion on pro-life claims of people who do not also support gun bans, free healthcare, and other political causes ostensibly meant to protect and improve quality of life.

Another post included a link to a news story headlined “Leslie Jones leads the charge against Alabama’s abortion ban in the SNL season finale”.

The Church has consistently upheld the sanctity of the life of the unborn child.

It has also consistently condemned direct abortion, the intentional taking of an innocent human life, as a grave moral evil.

“When we confronted you with the post, you admitted to it and, moreover, reacted in a manner leading us to conclude you would not do so differently in the future,” the school’s principal Patrick Finneran is quoted as saying in Cox’s termination letter.

“Parents send their children to [the school] expressly because they want a Catholic teaching and upbringing. Your public expression of disagreement with Catholic values undermines that.”

Several other cases of teachers being fired for failing publicly to uphold Catholic teaching are ongoing in the US.



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