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Month: July 2016

The Catholic Church’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

The Catholic Church’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

You may not have heard about the wrongful termination lawsuit that the Catholic Church recently dealt with. Nonetheless, this is a case that is well worth studying in greater detail. There is the matter of the settlement, which came out to something along the lines of four million dollars. This was paid out to former high school football coach Christopher Cerbone.

 

While the above figure is certainly worth studying in greater detail, it is not the only element to this story that you will want to keep in mind. For example, you will certainly want to be aware of what Cerbone alleged in his original complaint.

 

The Unfortunate Firing of Christopher Cerbone

In the lawsuit, Christopher Cerbone claimed he was fired unfairly from his job as coach of the football team at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School, which is located in Vallejo. Cerbone claimed in his lawsuit that he was fired after reporting to his superiors that older players on the football team were sexually hazing the younger players. Cerbone felt like a scapegoat, in the wake of his firing. As a coach for the St. Patrick-St. Vincent team, Cerbone served in that capacity for one full season.

 

He claimed to have discovered the sexual hazing just prior to Christmas break. He then immediately reported his findings to the school principal. An investigation was then launched by the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. The initial incident was reported in the winter of 2012. The results of the investigation were returned in January of 2013. In their findings, Cerbone was fired from his position. In addition to this, five players were also expelled. Amongst the specific acts that lead to their expulsion, the players were alleged to have exposed their genitals to younger players. Inappropriate contact between older and younger players was another factor that led to expulsion.

 

All of these grim details proved to contribute to Cerbone’s eventual lawsuit against the Catholic Church. As time would eventually reveal, the results of Cerbone’s lawsuit proved to be very interesting. Those results certainly set a compelling precedent that could potentially be exploited by others in the future.

 

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The Lawsuit and Beyond

One element to the lawsuit that proved interesting was the fact that Cerbone was able to secure a new job at another school. After being fired, Cerbone was able to find a job as an assistant principal at a school in King City. Even better, the job came with a salary that was estimated to be a full thirty thousand dollars higher than what he had been making at St. Patrick-St. Vincent.

 

Even so, Cerbone argued that the behavior of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento still prevented him from being able to work in his ideal profession. Cerbone claimed in his lawsuit that two things contributed to the damage he perceived to his professional reputation. In the first place, Cerbone argued that the mere act of firing him harmed him. In the second place, Cerbone further explained that the diocese news release regarding the firing caused even more harm to his reputation. Indeed, the news release that came out from the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento listed Cerbone as being “ultimately responsible” for the hazing that occurred.

 

Beleaguered by the troubling particulars of Cerbone’s firing, the diocese offered a settlement. This is where the figure of four million dollars comes into the picture. That amount of money is significant, to be sure. At the same time, one doesn’t want to forget that a jury also awarded Cerbone damages in the amount of nine hundred thousand dollars. It isn’t hard to understand why the diocese was so eager to extend this settlement. At the time in which the four million dollar offer was made, a jury for Sacramento County superior court was mulling over a specific amount of money in regards to punitive damages. Some legal experts believe the church should have held out, as the amount of money that would have been awarded through punitive damages could have easily been a much lower figure than what the Catholic Church ultimately offered.

 

Nonetheless, it is important to keep in mind that this is only one opinion. At the end of the day, nothing can change the fact that Cerbone must feel vindicated. His reputation has been restored.