Kenneth Bencomo, a former Catholic high school teacher, claims he was fired from his job after his legal marriage to his same-sex partner. Bencomo states in the lawsuit that until he was fired, he was unaware of the church’s stance on homosexuals and gay marriage. Bencomo, now 49 years old, was raised Catholic and graduated from an all-male Catholic high school in La Verne.
Bencomo and his same-sex partner, Christopher Persky, met in April 2003. The two were among a large group of same-sex couples that married when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 that gay weddings could resume in California for the first time since 2008. Bencomo was fired from St. Lucy’s Priory High School in Glendora, California in July 2013. The firing occurred less than two weeks after Bencomo publicly shared news of his nuptials through social media.
Bencomo filed suit against St. Lucy’s in March 2014 citing wrongful termination claims in violation of public policy as well as violations of state Labor Code and breach of employment contract. The attorneys representing the school filed a motion for dismissal on the grounds that the school was founded by a Catholic-affiliated organization and therefore has immunity from the claims included in Bencomo’s suit. Bencomo’s attorney argues that the school’s argument for dismissal is a misguide application of the ministerial exception.
During Bencomo’s deposition, he was asked about his knowledge of the Catholic Church’s view of gays and gay marriage. Bencomo stated that at the time he took the job at St. Lucy’s, he had no idea what the Catholic Church’s stance was regarding being gay. He further stated that he learned about the church’s position on the matter when he was terminated. He said that he doesn’t remember who it was that told him that it was okay to be gay, but that you couldn’t act on it. Bencomo stated that he didn’t believe that the information he was provided was an actual representation of the Catholic Church’s official viewpoint on gays.
If you feel that you may have been wrongfully terminated from your job, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.