EEOC stepped in after eight teachers filed a complaint over what they called a discriminatory health insurance policy.
BELMONT, North Carolina (LifeSiteNews.com) - The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has accused Belmont Abbey College of discriminating against its female employees by not covering contraceptives in its health insurance plan.
The EEOC stepped in after eight teachers filed a complaint over what they considered a discriminatory health insurance policy, and what Belmont Abbey says is simply faithfulness to basic Church teaching.
In December 2007 Belmont Abbey, a conservative Catholic campus in North Carolina, stopped offering abortion, contraception, and sterilization coverage that had been accidentally included as part of its employee health insurance packages.
"As a Roman Catholic institution, Belmont Abbey College is not able to and will not offer nor subsidize medical services that contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church," said Belmont Abbey President William Thierfelder. "There was no other course of action possible if we were to operate in fidelity to our mission and to our identity as a Catholic college."
After faculty members filed complaints with the EEOC and the North Carolina Department of Insurance, Belmont Abbey says the EEOC told the school in March 2009 that it would close the file on the discrimination charge, as it had not found the school's decision in violation of its statutes. But the agency later reversed itself, and issued a determination letter to the school on August 5 affirming that the ban amounted to gender discrimination, because it pertains only to women.
"By denying prescription contraception drugs, Respondent (the college) is discriminating based on gender because only females take oral prescription contraceptives," wrote Reuben Daniels Jr., the EEOC Charlotte District Office Director in the determination. "By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women."
Belmont Abbey College has been directed by the EEOC to reach an agreeable resolution with faculty. If this does not happen, Daniels will advise the parties of available enforceable court alternatives.
BAC president Dr. William K. Thierfelder said he was surprised at hte EEOC's reversal, and called their decision "disappointing."
"We are disappointed that this matter has taken this very unusual twist, but we remain committed to ensuring that all of the College's policies and practices follow the teachings of the Catholic Church, which includes valuing all life and treating individuals with dignity and respect, and providing equal opportunities for all," said Thierfelder in a statement on behalf of the school.
"The College is confident that its actions ultimately will be found to be in compliance with all federal and state laws and with the U.S. Constitution," said the statement. "Accordingly, the College will be asking the EEOC to reconsider each of the current determinations it has made in connection with the charges filed against the College."
The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), who has included Belmont Abbey in its list of top conservative Catholic campuses in the U.S., told EEOC acting chairman Stuart Ishimaru in a letter today that "It is ironic that the federal agency responsible for protecting against discrimination has so blatantly engaged in an inexcusable violation of religious liberty in its Belmont Abbey ruling,"
CNS also is sending a letter to all Catholic bishops in the United States, informing them of the EEOC action against Belmont Abbey College, and highlighting the dangerous precedent this ruling sets to force Catholic employers to include contraceptive coverage in employee health plans.
"No Catholic college or other institution should be required by government to violate the Catholic Church's clear moral teachings," said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. "The apparently increasing insensitivity to religious beliefs should frighten all employers and employees. We urge religious leaders to stand in defense of Belmont Abbey College."
To respectfully express concerns:
Reuben Daniels, Jr.,
EEOC Charlotte District Office Director
129 West Trade Street
Charlotte, North Carolina 28202
Chairman, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
131 M Street, NE
Washington, DC 20507
Phone: (202) 663-4900
TTY: (202) 663-4494
LifeSiteNews.com is a non-profit Internet service dedicated to issues of culture, life, and family. It was launched in September 1997. LifeSiteNews Daily News reports and information pages are used by numerous organizations and publications, educators, professionals and political, religious and life and family organization leaders and grassroots people across North America and internationally.
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
St. Mary's University in Twickenham, London has been formally approved to name one of their buildings after Benedict XVI. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to its website, St. Mary's University will name one of their buildings the Benedict XVI Centre for ... continue reading
By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The University of Portland recently launched a "Speak Up" campaign designed to put an end to discrimination, intolerance and "incidents of discomfort." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The University's Speak Up website specifies inclusion is a top priority - one ... continue reading
By Adelaide Mena and Matt Hadro, CNA News
Amid uproar over comparing struggling students to bunnies that should be drowned or shot, Mount St. Mary's University president is now under fire for criticizing expressions of the Catholic faith at the school. Emmitsburg, Md. (CNA) - Already facing turmoil, the ... continue reading
By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)
The future of religious freedom in the United States will one day be in the care of today's college students, so one Catholic college is working to equip them for that struggle. Washington D.C., (CNA/EWTN News) - Wyoming Catholic College is trying to form a "community ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The Catholic education system is coming under attack by a plethora of policies designed to make the hiring process, acceptance of anti-Christian viewpoints, transgender issues and Catholic identity concerns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Cardinal Newman ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
A list of the top 40 traditional Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America was created, but were they rated fairly? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Newsmax revealed their top forty Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America, but what were their standards?The United ... continue reading
By Jessie Tappel, Communications Director at Divine Mercy University
God, the source of all mercy, provides us with an experience so great that we have no choice but to reflect it to our own brother and sister. Mercy calls for an outward response, which is made clear in the examples of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. You can ... continue reading
By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas, a member of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, broke ground on a new Center for Science and Health Professions on Nov. 12, 2015. The new facility, containing more than 100,000 square-feet of modern lab space and classrooms, will meet ... continue reading
By Kyle Jorstad, Grove City College
Catholic Online welcomes scholarly submissions for consideration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract: Though members of the scientific and atheistic community alike often tout science as the downfall of religion, theories regarding Darwinian evolution ... continue reading
By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
It should be no surprise that America's colleges and universities are overrun with anti-American liberals who lack all respect for the country and the principles upon which it is founded. In an age where political correctness has run amok, students are indoctrinated by ... continue reading