Friday, June 9, 2017

John Colin Collette v. Archdiocese of Chicago

Colin Collette
According to Christian media the the former music director lost his case against the Archdiocese of Chicago for discrimination. Collette was fired from Holy Family parish in Inverness in July 2014 after announcing his engagement to his partner on social media. He had been in the employ of the parish for 17 years as music director and director of worship.

Regardless of the legal issues it seems utterly senseless to fire a good employee for being gay. I get that it is an effort to enforce the teachings of the Church which disapproves of gay people. Yet it demonstrates an inability for someone to have a private life apart from employment. The optics are terrible and the effect on Mr. Collette is undoubtedly terrible as well.

I will not be able to download the opinion until next week (I am waiting for a computer part and PACER is incompatible with my tablet). Whether or not the ministerial exception applies could have been a close call. However, I am troubled that there was no effort to have the judge recuse himself. Judge Charles P. Kocoras obtained both his baccalaureate and law degrees from DePaul University which is the largest Catholic university in the United States. On the surface Collette may have been out-lawyered. I will have more on this matter next Wednesday or Thursday.

Kocoras is perhaps best known for awarding $11 million to a bulk email (spam) company against a spam prevention organization in the UK. The decision was reversed on appeal. In a large tax evasion case, Kocoras ordered payment of the tax plus interest and penalties (some $80 million) but no jail time because of the defendant's philanthropy. This essentially favors a wealthy defendant over others.

I will contact Collettes' attorney next week to see if they intend to appeal the decision.

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