Carla Hale will file for binding arbitration with the Catholic Diocese of Columbus in seeking to win back the job she lost as a teacher when it came to light she is in a same-sex relationship.
Her attorney, Thomas Tootle, made that announcement June 13.
“There is no question that we’re going to pursue that,” he said.
In a June 11 press release announcing that Lucia McQuaide, superintendent of schools for the diocese, had denied Hale’s request for reinstatement as a physical education teacher at Watterson High School, Tootle had indicated Hale had two weeks to decide the question of binding arbitration. That hasn’t been done yet, Tootle said, but it will be within the time frame.
There was never a doubt, he said.
This is in spite of the possibility of Hale incurring severe expenses in paying for half of the services of a professional from the American Arbitration Association. The association could charge $150 an hour to $800 an hour for the services of an arbitrator, according to Tootle.
A somewhat similar case in Cincinnati in which a teacher was dismissed from a Catholic school after having a child out of wedlock involved a hearing that lasted three days, the attorney said.
Normally, the cost of binding arbitration would be split between the diocese and the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, Tootle said. However, on May 13, Hale called a press conference to announce that the professional association that represents teachers in the diocese declined to back her in her fight to get back the position she had held at Watterson for 19 years.
Hale was dismissed May 13 after diocesan officials concluded her relationship with her partner violated a morality clause in both her employment contract and the collective-bargaining agreement of the COACE.
Tootle said arrangements already have been made to start the process rolling with the American Arbitration Association.
“This is truly a neutral arbitration organization,” Tootle said. “It’s not a bunch of Catholic nuns.”
The American Arbitration Association is a nonprofit organization with offices throughout the United States, according to its website, which claims the association has “a long history and experience in the field of alternative dispute resolution, providing services to individuals and organizations who wish to resolve conflicts out of court. The AAA role in the dispute resolution process is to administer cases, from filing to closing.”
The association will provide a list of seven candidates to serve as the arbitrator between the diocese and Hale, Tootle said. Each side could strike three of those names until the last one remaining gets the job.
“At that point, the time frames would be governed by the decision of the arbitrator,” Tootle said.
Proceedings could begin in weeks or could be delayed for up to a year, he said.
The diocese is required to participate in binding arbitration under the terms of the collective-bargaining agreement with the Central Ohio Association of Catholic Educators, according to the attorney.
“That decision’s already been made,” Tootle said.