The New Jersey Supreme Court sided with a Catholic school that fired a teacher for premarital sex after she told them she had become pregnant.
The court sided with St. Theresa School on Monday after the private school terminated Victoria Crisitello in 2014 when the unmarried employee informed the school principal about her pregnancy at a possible promotion meeting, according to legal documents.
Her contract was canceled and she was replaced by a teacher who was married and had children, the documents say.
Cristello filed a lawsuit in 2014, alleging that she had been discriminated against because of her pregnancy and marital status.
The school’s reasoning for dismissing Crisitello for violating the tenets of the Catholic faith was “mere subterfuge,” their lawsuit argued.
However, the state Supreme Court ruled that religious institutions could base decisions, including firing employees, on religious principles.
The school’s attorney, Peter Verniero said NJ.com that St. Theresa was satisfied with the verdict.
“Equally important, the court found no evidence of discrimination in this case,” Verniero said. “This is a significant affirmation of St. Theresa School’s rights as a religious employer.”
Meanwhile, Crisitello’s attorney, Tom McKinney, told NBC News his client was disheartened by the verdict.
“We are disappointed with the result, we understand the decision, it has been a legal battle for almost ten years,” he said.
The Attorney General also commented on the verdict.
“We are disappointed with today’s decision, but we are grateful that its narrow scope will not affect the important protections that the anti-discrimination law provides for the overwhelming majority of New Jerseyers,” a spokesman for the bureau told CNN.
Crisitello, a former student at the school, was an art teacher and carer in the school’s toddlers’ room.
The conversation with the principal in which she revealed she was pregnant came when she was asked if she would like to teach full-time at the school.
When she was hired in 2011, she signed an acknowledgment declaring that she understood the school’s code of ethics, which requires staff to abide by Catholic law, including abstaining from premarital sex, court documents say .
The teacher’s lawsuit was previously dismissed by the trial court judges before the state appeals chamber overturned both decisions, NJ.com reported.