In Minnesota, if an employee has been discriminated against because of his or her sexual orientation, and can prove it, he or she may be entitled to compensation and may be able to be reinstated if fired and receive back pay. However, there are exceptions to this rule under bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ). A BFOQ allows employers to consider certain qualities or attributes in potential employees when deciding who to hire or retain. These considerations could be considered discriminatory in other situations.
One area that could be considered a BFOQ is religious beliefs. For example, a school that is privately owned by a religion could require its employees to be of its denomination and abide by its statutes. In another setting, hiring based on religious belief could be considered discriminatory.
Although a Catholic school stated on its website that it does not discriminate based on sexual orientation or marital status, it appears that the vice principal was fired after marrying his same-sex partner.
The vice principal said that in 2010, he told the president of the school that he was gay when she questioned him. He agreed to not bring his partner to any school events upon the president’s request. The man married his partner in July 2013. When school administrators asked him in November if he was gay, he told them he was. When he did not agree to get a divorce, he was fired.
The man has filed a wrongful termination and discrimination lawsuit against the school. The school wants the lawsuit dismissed, saying that religious schools are immune from civil claims according to state law and the man knew the Catholic Church opposed same-sex marriage.
Source: The Raw Story, “Fired gay Catholic school vice principal files suit for wrongful termination,” Tom Boggioni, Mar. 7, 2014