A former teacher at a Queens Catholic school has won her first round in a wrongful termination lawsuit against the school. The teacher, affectionately known as Mr. K during most of his teaching career at the school, was allegedly fired in October 2012 for insubordination after 32 years on the job. But the former teacher, now known as Marla, claims in her lawsuit that the school terminated her simply because of her declaration that she was transgender.
As described in a WABC-TV exclusive news report, the school’s vice principal allegedly called the teacher “worse than gay,” but school officials did not comment on that allegation. Rather, the school went to court seeking dismissal of the teacher’s lawsuit on the grounds that the firing was legally based on insubordination.
Judge Duane Hart expressed skepticism of the school’s defense. The judge rhetorically asked, "Insubordination after 32 years of teaching? And the insubordination seems to coincide with the expression of being transgender?"
The school’s attorney offered an alternate defense, that the teacher is a minister and the court has no jurisdiction over a religious school’s right to hire and fire ministers.
Judge Hart rejected both claims and denied the school’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Further, the judge strongly urged the parties to settle the lawsuit.
Federal, state and NYC laws prohibit discrimination against an employee based on his or her sexual orientation.