Clergy Sex Abuse: Nun Fired For Complaint Over Porn - Philadelphia Employment Law News

Philadelphia Employment Law News

Clergy Sex Abuse: Nun Fired For Complaint Over Porn

Today, in the ongoing Clergy Sex Abuse criminal trial, Sister Joan Scary, a nun that previously worked at St. Gabriel's in Montgomery County, testified that she was fired after complaining to church officials about one of the priests was receiving porn at the church. The priest had previously been convicted of using the mail to purchase child porn in 1986 and was transferred to St. Gabriel's after the case was resolved, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

As lawyers, when the words porn, complain, and fired are uttered in a sentence, the words sue, sexual harassment, and retaliation enter our minds. It truly is an immediate association, much like the mention of Christmas to a child brings forth happy images of a fat man in a red suit and lots of toys.

And suing might have been possible here. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is where harassing remarks are made about one's sex, unwelcome sexual advances are made, or other verbal or harassment of a sexual nature is made. The definition is vague on purpose, as it is intended to encompass all of the creative ways in which some employers have managed to make their employees uncomfortable.

A case certainly could be made that exposing a nun, who would likely have a higher sensitivity to such things, to pornography, even if it was only in passing, would qualify as harassment. The fact that she was then fired when she complained is merely the proverbial cherry on top. There might also be retaliatory discharge and wrongful termination claims worth pursuing as well.

Based on these facts, Sister Joan Scary was fired without cause or reason. She was fired because she reported to her superiors that her boss, the moral compass of the community, was having porn shipped to the church. This same boss was previously convicted of ordering child porn through the mail, though that was allegedly not disclosed to the church and its employees when he was transferred there.

Instead of being able to continue to teach the children and protect them from the dangers of the world, she was cast out into the cold for reporting her superior's inappropriate conduct. A lawyer thinking about employment law and these specific issues may have been able to get her reinstated.

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