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Alicea-Hernandez v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

December 12, 2002, Argued ; February 21, 2003, Decided

No. 02-2280


 [*700]  FLAUM, Chief Judge. Gloria Alicea-Hernandez, an Hispanic female, claims that her former employer, the Catholic Bishop of Chicago ("the Church"), discriminated against her based on her national origin and gender in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. The Church argued to the district court that the religious clauses of the First Amendment preclude federal subject matter jurisdiction over these claims because both the nature of the claims and Alicea-Hernandez's unique responsibilities at the Church would require the court to engage in excessive entanglement in matters of Church policy. The district court accepted these arguments and dismissed the suit pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). Alicea-Hernandez appeals. Although we disagree with the district court's analysis regarding the characterization of her claims, we affirm based on the position Alicea-Hernandez held with the Church.

 [**2] I. Background

In March 2000 Alicea-Hernandez was hired by the Archdiocese of Chicago to fill the post of Hispanic Communications Manager. Her duties included: composing media releases for the Hispanic community; composing correspondence for the Cardinal; developing a working relationship with the Hispanic media and parishes in the Hispanic community to promote Church activities; developing a working relationship with the Hispanic community to enhance community involvement; composing articles for Church publications; and translating Church materials into Spanish. Alicea-Hernandez continued in her employment with the Church until December of that year, when she resigned.

Alicea-Hernandez claims that while working for the Church she was discriminated against on the basis of her gender and national origin as well as retaliated against for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charge. She bases these claims on allegations of poor office conditions, the Church's attempts to prevent her from rectifying those conditions, exclusion from management meetings and communications, denial of resources necessary for her to perform her job, and constructive discharge and subsequent [**3]  replacement by a less qualified male who received a higher salary and a more significant title for the same position.

While all this discrimination was allegedly occurring, Alicea-Hernandez was actively taking issue with the Church on its relations with the Hispanic community. In  [*701]  various emails and memoranda Alicea-Hernandez continually and sharply criticized the Church with regard to this aspect of Church's mission.

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320 F.3d 698 *; 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 3173 **; 91 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 183; 83 Empl. Prac. Dec. (CCH) P41,327

GLORIA ALICEA-HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. THE CATHOLIC BISHOP OF CHICAGO, a corporation sole, Defendant-Appellee.

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 01 C 8374. David H. Coar, Judge.

 Alicea-Hernandez v. Archdiocese of Chi., 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6877.

Disposition: Judgment of the district court affirmed.


Church, subject matter jurisdiction, ministerial, religious, motion to dismiss, district court, Communications, message, press secretary, composing, merits

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Responses, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Jurisdiction Over Actions, General Overview, Constitutional Law, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Religion, Free Exercise of Religion, Labor & Employment Law, Religious Discrimination, Defenses, Discrimination, Title VII Discrimination