California churches shaken over wrongful termination lawsuit

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Posted by Legal Team On August 16, 2019

Two different United Methodist churches in California are in turmoil and a preschool run by the one in Orange County has closed over allegations that a pastor behaved inappropriately toward the preschool’s well-established director and the church’s leadership fired her for reporting it.

The woman at the heart of the wrongful termination lawsuit that has rocked the congregation of the churches was the longtime director of the Palisades United Methodist Preschool. She complained to church authorities that a pastor in the church was inappropriate in a number of sexual ways, including staring at women’s buttocks and making sexual comments about some of the women.

Her complaints were ignored. She followed up with the church’s leadership. She was ignored some more. She grew insistent that the church investigate.

And, then, she was fired. According to the church’s leadership, she was fired for giving raises to herself and her subordinates without authorization. According to the former preschool director, that’s an excuse and a pretext for firing her out of retaliation for refusing to just settle down and stay quiet.

The church did investigate and found no wrong-doing on the part of the pastor, but transferred him to another parish some distance away.

Now, the wrongful termination lawsuit has become public knowledge and the congregation of both churches are up in arms. They’re upset at the way the former preschool director was treated and what they believe is a lack of transparency on the issues regarding sexual harassment complaints in the church.

The reality is that many people who report sexual harassment or other unethical behavior are treated unfairly for “rocking the boat” by organizations that place a high priority on appearances. If you suspect that you’re the victim of wrongful termination after taking a stand in the workplace against some breach of ethics or conduct, find out more about your legal rights.