Four accuse St. Augustine diocese of discrimination

Published: Friday, January 14, 2011 at 4:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2011 at 4:40 p.m.

Four employees of St. Augustine Parish have filed state and federal discrimination charges against the diocese, with at least three saying their recent demotions were based on their ages and national origin.

Attorney George Harth — a parishioner who has known the employees for years — is handling the cases of three older Hispanic employees. He said he found out about a fourth complainant — who is not known to him — through the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

He said five other affected employees are not protected under civil rights laws under exemptions for church ministerial workers.

The parish includes the St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center at 1738 W. University Ave.

The employees say the Diocese of St. Augustine in Jacksonville requested a list of parish employee names with age, race and salary, Harth said. The parish initially objected on the grounds that the information could be used for discriminatory purposes, but later relented, according to the complaints.

The employees say they were terminated and hired back at lesser jobs with lower pay.

The parish office referred a call to the diocese.

Diocese spokeswoman Kathleen Bagg said the parish reorganized staff because it was faced with an extreme budget shortfall and that employee age, race and gender information is part of any employee file.

The diocese has 2,400 employees and she said EEOC complaints are not unusual when employees are laid off or have other employment issues.

The diocese is responding to requests for documentation, Bagg said.

The state and federal investigations are ongoing.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top