Another Roncalli guidance counselor alleges discrimination over sexual orientation
Roncalli High has been wracked by controversy, after the Catholic school in Indianapolis placed a longtime guidance counselor on administrative leave after learning she was in a same-sex marriage. IndyStar
A guidance counselor at Roncalli High School, who worked with Shelly Fitzgerald, has announced plans to sue the Catholic school and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis for allegedly discriminating against her based on her sexual orientation.
Lynn Starkey, the co-director of guidance at Roncalli, filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Friday against the school and archdiocese, her lawyers announced in a news release.
The complaint alleges discrimination and a hostile work environment based on sex and sexual orientation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Shelly Fitzgerald on 'Ellen': Roncalli counselor says school outed her 'to the world'
IndyStar has reached out to Roncalli officials and the archdiocese seeking comment.
Starkey has been in a civil union with her spouse since 2015, according to the complaint.
Almost immediately after Shelly Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave over her same-sex marriage, Starkey, who has worked as a guidance counselor at the Catholic high school for more than two decades, said she began experiencing a "hostile work environment."
Protesting outside Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, Shelly Fitzgerald and supporters hoped to reach Catholic donors to urge inclusivity. Indianapolis Star
A few days after Fitzgerald was gone, Starkey had prepared some remarks for an administrative council meeting and asked Roncalli Principal Chuck Weisenbach whether what she'd written would be useful in helping employees explain "what it was like to work at Roncalli as a gay person."
Weisenbach then asked Starkey if she had a civil union. Starkey told him that she did, the complaint said.
"In 39 years of employment at Roncalli, my case and Ms. Fitzgerald's are the only situations where I know the principal has asked an employee about potential violations of the Church's teachings," Starkey said in the complaint.
Roncalli's decision in Fitzgerald's case "severely" altered the conditions of Starkey's work environment, the complaint said. Starkey had to take on many of Fitzgerald's work responsibilities, she said. And the treatment of Fitzgerald seemed to illustrate to Starkey that she's not welcome at her place of employment, according to the complaint.
Starkey also noted the ensuing protests from students and parents, criticism against the school, and local and national media coverage of Fitzgerald's case.
"I have suffered severe emotional distress, pain and suffering, and mental anguish as a result of the Archdiocese and Roncalli’s discriminatory actions," the complaint said.
Shelly Fitzgerald, a Roncalli High School counselor was placed on administrative leave after a parishioner voiced concern about her sexual orientation Indianapolis Star
Starkey's complaint comes one day after a lawyer for Fitzgerald announced at a news conference they he and his client would be filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within the next 30 days. If the EEOC issues a right-to-sue letter, Fitzgerald and her legal team will file a suit in federal court against the archdiocese. Page said Roncalli may also be named in the lawsuit.
The same process is expected in Starkey's case, her attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, told the IndyStar.
"The filing of an EEOC charge of discrimination is a required first step before a lawsuit may be initiated," she said. "Once the EEOC concludes its administrative review of Ms. Starkey’s charge (after 180 days), she intends to sue the archdiocese and the school."
On Thursday, Fitzgerald's attorney, David Page, said it's unlikely that she'll return to the school.
"We don't see any going back at this point," Page said.
DeLaney said there was no coordination with Fitzgerald or Page on the timing of her client's complaint.
Starkey plans to remain at the school, DeLaney said.
Call IndyStar reporter Crystal Hill at 317-444-6094. Follow her on Twitter: @crysnhill.