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Former nun invokes Title IX in bias battle against Gannon U.


A former Catholic nun whose discrimination claim against Gannon University was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court is trying revive it by invoking a law best known for requiring schools to provide equal athletic opportunities for men and women.

The Supreme Court in April denied an appeal by Lynette Petruska, the first woman chaplain at Gannon. Petruska on Tuesday asked a judge to allow her to file an amended lawsuit invoking Title IX, a federal law that requires schools that receive federal funding to offer equal opportunities to both genders.

Petruska, who is now an attorney in St. Louis, claims she was demoted in 2002 and forced to resign because of her gender and because she helped expose accusations of a cover-up over a priest who allegedly had an affair.

A federal judge rejected her discrimination claim. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in September, although Petruska can still pursue a breach of contract and fraud claim against the university.

The appeals court ruled that it could not consider Petruska’s claims because of the “ministerial exception,” which allow courts to avoid deciding legal disputes between religious institutions and clergy.

Arthur Martinucci, one of several defense attorneys in the case, said he expects Petruska’s newest effort to revive her discrimination claim will be struck down for the same reason.

“The courts are not willing to intervene in employment decisions concerning a religious organization and its ministers,” Martinucci said.

Information from: Erie Times-News,

–Associated Press

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