Tarn Duff is a two-time All-American softball outfielder who, up until recently, was serving as an assistant coach at a Montana high school. The school refused to renew her contract for the spring 2014 sports season after it was discovered that Duff has been working at a Planned Parenthood.
Duff worked as an unpaid volunteer at Billings Central Catholic School in 2012; for her coaching services in 2013, Duff was paid approximately $1,500.
In November of 2013, Duff began working as a clinical assistant at Billing’s Planned Parenthood center. She says that she “never thought twice” about whether working for the health care center would compromise her chances of getting hired as a coach.
However, the school failed to extend her another coaching offer for the 2014 season.
Duff has said that Coleman Rockwell, the school’s head coach, told her that the decision was based off her work at Planned Parenthood.
Patrick Haggerty, superintendent of Catholic schools in Montana, confirmed the decision not extend Duff a coaching offer.
“Certainly being employed by Planned Parenthood, an organization that by nature violates Catholic moral teaching by providing abortions, is not being a good role model to the children attending Catholic schools,” Haggerty said.
Haggerty also specified that the school “fulfilled the terms of the contract, and so did she.” Because spring 2014 season contracts have not yet been offered to coaches, Haggerty said that he doesn’t “know if you can say she’s been fired.”
In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that houses of worship are allowed to discriminate in their employment practices on “religious grounds in certain, limited circumstances.” This “ministerial exception” is now, however, being widely contested, and people and organizations across the country are pushing its limits.
Duff has said that she is not considering a lawsuit at this time.
Controversies similar to the one surrounding Duff have been breaking out across the nation.
Catholic schools have repeatedly and “unapologetically fired teachers for their reproductive choices, prompting lawsuits in response.” In most such cases, courts have sided with the employees and have decreed that these actions “amount to unlawful employment discrimination.”
Although contraception, abortion and family planning are at the center of many of these Catholic school controversies, others have stemmed from issues relating to gay rights. Many a faculty and administration member has been fired for legally marrying his/her same-sex partner.
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