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DIOCESE OF YOUNGSTOWN Teacher's suit alleges age discrimination



Published: Sat, May 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Diocese officials said the woman entered an invalid marriage.

By BOB JACKSON

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- A Hubbard woman is suing the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, saying she was wrongly fired from her job as a schoolteacher.

Mary Ellen Potts of Orchard Avenue taught more than 14 years at St. Charles School in Boardman before being fired in December.

Diocese officials said she had entered "a marriage not recognized as valid by the Catholic church," which Potts' attorney, Raymond J. Masek of Warren, said is not true.

Potts, 59, is asking that she be given back her job and awarded unspecified damages. The suit, filed in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, is assigned to Judge R. Scott Krichbaum.

Diocese spokeswoman Nancy Yuhasz said Potts knew about the diocese's marriage requirements, as do all employees. She had not seen the lawsuit so declined to comment on it.

What's in suit

The suit says that at the time of her firing, Potts had recently gotten married. Her husband was in the process of having a previous marriage annulled according to the tenets of the Catholic church. Masek said Potts sought guidance from diocese staff before she got married.

"They told her she was going about it the right way," Masek said. "She is totally devastated by this and by the way it was handled."

The suit says that after Potts was fired, she was replaced by a younger teacher. Potts alleges in the suit that the diocese discriminated against her because of her age and because she was at the top range of pay.

Yuhasz said the marriage issue was the only reason for Potts' firing.

Potts also says the diocese breached its contract with her and was negligent in the way it applied its policies regarding valid marriages.

bjackson@vindy.com




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