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updated: 5/28/2013 9:05 AM

Trial opens over firing of pregnant Ohio teacher

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Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- A trial was getting under way Tuesday in a Catholic schoolteacher's lawsuit alleging the Archdiocese of Cincinnati violated anti-discrimination laws by firing her after she became pregnant through artificial insemination.

Opening statements are expected in Christa Dias' federal lawsuit against the archdiocese and two schools. The lawsuit says her 2010 firing violated federal and state laws.

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Dias says she was fired because she was pregnant and unmarried and that church policies aren't enforced equally against men and women.

The archdiocese says she was fired because artificial insemination is immoral and violates church doctrine and a contract requiring all employees to "comply with and act consistently in accordance with the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."

The archdiocese also says Dias was a ministerial employee and the Supreme Court has said religious groups can dismiss those employees without government interference.

Dias says she taught computer technology and had no ministerial duties.

The case is being viewed as a barometer on the degree to which religious organizations can regulate employees' lives.

Dias is seeking lost wages and benefits and unspecified damages, and has said she wants "to make sure they can't do this to anyone else."

She says she didn't know artificial insemination violated Catholic doctrine.

It's the second lawsuit that's been filed in the last two years against archdiocese over the firing of an unmarried pregnant teacher.

Kathleen Quinlan, who taught first grade at Ascension Catholic School in Kettering in suburban Dayton, said she was told to resign or she would be fired, on the same day she told the school's principal in December 2011 that she was expecting.

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