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Diocese appeals $403K award to ex-teacher fired from Fort Wayne school for in vitro treatments


FORT WAYNE, Indiana — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has appealed a judgment of more than $403,000 to be paid to a former language arts teacher who was fired after seeking several in vitro fertilization treatments.

Emily Herx filed a federal gender discrimination case against the diocese in 2012 after her contract wasn't renewed at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. She argues that the diocese treated male teachers in similar situations differently than her and that she had been discriminated against because she had tried to become pregnant by the procedure for the third time.

The diocese claims it chose not to renew Herx's contract because she violated church teachings by undergoing in vitro fertilization, and not because she tried to become pregnant, The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/1L1tB4R ) reported. Diocese attorneys have said Roman Catholic Church teachings condemn in vitro fertilization and consider it gravely evil.

Herx initially was awarded $1.9 million in damages, but a judge reduced the award to $543,803 in January. The amount was cut again last month to $403,608, less than what she was originally awarded by a jury in December after a weeklong trial.

Attorney Kathleen DeLaney, who's representing Herx, said on Tuesday afternoon that she's not surprised by the diocese's decision to file a notice of appeal on Friday, just days before the deadline to appeal expired.

"The Diocese's decision to appeal the outcome vindicating Mrs. Herx's legal rights is unfortunate, but not unexpected. We are fully prepared to defend the jury's verdict in Mrs. Herx's favor on appeal," DeLaney said in an email.

Attorneys representing the diocese didn't respond to emails seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.

The U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago is expected to consider the diocese's request to overturn the final judgment in late October.

Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

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