Assisted living administrator alleges sexual orientation discrimination

The former executive director of a religious affiliated assisted living home says he was fired because of his sexual orientation and marrage to his partner of 30 years.

John Murphy filed a discrimination claim against the Catholic Diocese of Richmond with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He says he served as executive director of the Saint Francis Home in Richmond, Va., for about a week before two deputies of Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo told him he was being terminated without severance.

“I thought I found a safe place where I could do good and I won’t be judged and I won’t be ostracized,” says Murphy, a lifelong Catholic, to the Associated Press. “People being discriminated against because of who they love, when it has nothing to do with their performance, is outrageous.”

Diana Sims Snider, a spokeswoman for the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, declined to discuss the case with the Associated Press citing personnel matters. She says the diocese considers the case a First Amendment issue and expects employees to uphold the church’s teachings, “including the values that are consistent with the sanctity of marriage.”

“We expect that a Catholic organization or any religious organization should be able to follow the teachings of our faith,” Snider says to the Associated Press. “We are saying: this is what we do as Catholics, this is what we expect of our employees because this is what we believe to be true.”

Lay administrators manage the home's daily operations. The diocese doesn’t fund the home’s yearly operating expenses, but it supports the home in other ways, like allowing it to solicit funds from parishioners, Snider says.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ruled in July that sexual orientation discrimination is already illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Topics: Executive Leadership , Leadership