Lawsuit against Charlotte Catholic High School can go to trial, judge says

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – A federal judge decided on Friday that the lawsuit filed by former Charlotte Catholic high school teacher Lonnie Billard will proceed to trial.

The former teacher said he was fired because of a Facebook post where he announced he would marry his gay partner.

Judge Max Cogburn of the Western District of North Carolina issued a 54-page decision dismissing the school and the Diocese’s efforts to seek First Amendment protections.

His decision stressed the case was about Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act’s anti-discrimination provisions rather than the school’s right to freedom of religion.

The judge stated, “Defendants do not cite a case that allows employers to discriminate based on sex when the sex discrimination in question is motivated by religion.”

Plaintiff Billard is a former teacher and substitute teacher at Charlotte Catholic High School who began working there as a substitute teacher in the fall of 2000.

He was given a full-time teaching position in the fall of 2001, where he first taught English. After a year, he switched to teaching drama classes.

When Billard retired from full-time teaching, he stayed on as a substitute teacher with Charlotte Catholic from the fall of 2012 until December 2014. He primarily substituted for English classes and only taught non-religious courses during his time at Charlotte Catholic.

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