Cook County Record

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Female ex-instructor sues Moody Bible Institute, says wrongly fired for advocating gender equality

By Scott Holland | Jan 26, 2018

Moody Bible Institute of Chicago | By Son of thunder at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Hippopotamus using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,

A female ordained minister who served on the faculty at Chicago’s Moody Bible Institute has sued the school for discrimination and retaliation, allegedly because she advocated for women who wanted to pursue careers in ministry.

In a complaint filed Jan. 25 in federal court in Chicago, Janay E. Garrick, who taught communications at Moody’s downtown Chicago campus from Dec. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2017, accused the religious school and its board of trustees of creating a hostile work environment and wrongly firing her.

Garrick, who has a master’s degree in cross-cultural studies and is pursuing a second such degree in creative nonfiction, said Moody hasn’t sought a religious exemption to Title IX requirements, asserting they are eligible to be sued for discrimination. She taught in Moody’s music and media arts division, and alleges she said during her interview process she identified as an “egalitarian Christian,” which ran counter to the school’s stance on gender equality within the ministry.

Shortly before her October 2014 interview, she said a vice president and associate faculty provost at the school told her to remove references to her ordination from her resume. As part of the hiring process, she said administrators did not inform her ordained ministers could claim a housing cost tax deduction. After she learned of the policy from a male professor, she filed her ordination license with Moody to claim the deduction, which could not be applied retroactively.

Garrick also said Moody reserves faculty spots in its “more prestigious Bible and theology programs” for men, and that, although she was asked to form a campus committee called Respect for Women Personally and Ministerially, the group’s work “was viewed with suspicion and hostility from the beginning.” She further said she was the only woman in her faculty workroom, where she was treated with antagonism.

She also detailed trouble she experienced while advocating for students, including a lesbian “struggling with MBI’s hostility toward her sexual orientation” who was later expelled, and females who were not allowed to enroll in pastoral ministry classes. She helped one of the students lodge a Title IX complaint, which she said was the first “ever brought at MBI.”

On Nov. 1, 2016, Garrick applied to have her rank increased to assistant professor, stating she met or exceeded professional and education requirements. But the school denied the increase, stating a need to “improve her fit within the division,” a remark she alleged resulted from her opposition to institutional gender discrimination.

Moody fired Garrick April 17, 2017, requiring her to teach classes and finish the semester, then stay as a non-teaching faculty member through the end of the year. But on April 26, after she spoke to students and student reporters, she said the school asked her to leave campus and return her computer and keys. The school ultimately denied a grievance she filed, and also fired a female full professor and assistant professor who were members of her grievance committee.

Formal complaints include violation of Title IX protections in the form of “subjecting her to a hostile environment; subjecting her to discriminatory disciplinary action; denying her a promotion; and unlawfully terminating her.” She also claimed her termination violated state law retaliatory discharge protections and said the school breached its contract with her by contradicting the standards set forth in both its faculty manual and employee information guide, specifically with regard to termination notification timelines.

She wants the court to award her lost and future wages and benefits, payment of contract damages, punitive damages and legal fees. According to her faculty contract, Garrick earned $53,520 for the contract year ending June 30, 2017.

Representing Garrick in the matter is the Franklin Law Firm LLC, of Chicago.

A spokesman for Moody said the school does not comment on pending litigation, but in a prepared statement added: “As a non-profit, accredited faith-based institution of higher education based in Chicago that includes media ministries, we are deeply committed to pursuing and empowering a diverse workplace to advance our mission. Since our founding by D. L. Moody 132 years ago, we have trained thousands of men and women to serve as missionaries, church leaders, as well as founders and leaders of non-profits and humanitarian-based organizations around the globe.”

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The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois