Illinois County Settles Pro-Life Woman’s Discrimination Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 27, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Illinois County Settles Pro-Life Woman’s Discrimination Lawsuit

by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 27, 2004

Rockford, IL ( — An Illinois county has settled a lawsuit filed by a former county health department employee who says she was denied a promotion based on her pro-life beliefs.

Faith Moncivaiz, formerly a secretary with the DeKalb County Health Department, filed suit in May 2003. Moncivaiz contends she was denied a promotion from a part-time secretarial position to a full-time position in the County Health Department because she expressed her reluctance to participate in any way in abortion counseling of Health Department clients.

In a settlement agreement reached between the American Center for Law and Justice, which filed suit on Moncivaiz’s behalf, and the county, Moncivaiz will receive $40,000 and the lawsuit will be dismissed.

"We are pleased to announce that this case has been settled and that the issues that led to the lawsuit have been resolved amicably," said Francis J. Manion, Senior Counsel of the ACLJ.

"Public and private employers need to know that pro-life employees enjoy legal protection under existing federal and state laws," Manion added.

Manion said the county violated the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which requires public agencies in the state to "respect and protect the right of conscience of all persons who refuse … to act contrary to their conscience or conscientious convictions in refusing to obtain, receive, accept, deliver, pay for, or arrange for the payment of health care services and medical care."

DeKalb County did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement. But, Manion said the county violated Moncivaiz’s rights.

“It is clear that our client was denied a promotion solely on the basis of her sincerely held religious beliefs that abortion was not an appropriate alternative to an unwanted pregnancy," Manion explained.

Moncivaiz worked as a part-time secretary for the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program, one of five programs within the Maternal Child/Health Division of the DeKalb County Health Department.

After two years on the job, she applied for a promotion in August 2002 for a full-time secretarial position in the WIC program.

The suit contended that during the interview, Jean Zucher, the coordinator for support services, asked Moncivaiz if she spoke both English and Spanish, and if she would be able to translate for the Family Planning program, that makes abortion referrals.

Moncivaiz said she found the question odd because she applied for a secretarial position, not a translator position. She also applied for a WIC job, not a position with the family planning department.

One month later Moncivaiz was told that she did not get the promotion because of her stand on abortion. Further, the suit contended that Zucher told Moncivaiz that she would be expected to uphold the view of the Health Department regarding abortion — even on her own time outside work.

According to the complaint, Moncivaiz was told that she was at least as qualified as the candidate who was hired, but would not get the full-time job because of her views on abortion.

Moncivaiz continued to work as only a part-time secretary for the WIC program in the health department until she resigned in March 2003.