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Ex-employees sue Christian school for religious discrimination

Missouri residents may be interested in an unusual wrongful termination case proceeding in another state. On April 22, nine former employees of a Christian school in Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that they were illegally fired because of their religious beliefs. The group includes managers, teachers and other staff members. The wrongful termination suit seeks reinstatement in the staff members' respective positions, plus back pay for the time they were not working.

The school is a charter school founded by a church known as Petra International Ministries. The complaint alleges that the employees who were terminated are all members of the church; the founding member was reportedly removed by the board in June 2012. The plaintiffs were all fired a short time later.

The plaintiffs state that there has been a longstanding conflict between employees who followed the same religion as the school's founder and those who follow a different religion. School administrators were left a message seeking a comment on the case, which was not immediately returned.

Federal law prohibits an employer from terminating an employee because of the employee's religious beliefs or status as a member of any protected class, such as race, gender or ethnicity. Any employees who believe that they were fired illegally in violation of anti-discrimination statutes may benefit from speaking with a Missouri employment law attorney. Damages in these cases typically include back pay, reinstatement and attorney's fees, but they may also include punitive damages. An attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement with the former employer to avoid court. Where litigation is inevitable, having a seasoned attorney who knows the federal court system well can help streamline the process of going through a civil trial.

Source: WHTM 27, "9 fired employees sue W. Pa. Christian academy," April 22, 2013

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