Female Employee accused an Erie Diocese Priest of Sexual Harassment

Pennsylvania – A female employee at a Catholic Diocese in Erie filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in the U.S. District Court based in Erie against the Diocese of Erie and DuBois’ St. Joseph Parish. In 2013, Kathleen A. Clement, facilitator of religious programs, accused the priest, Rev. Daniel Kresinski of sexually harassing her.

Kresinski is an active priest in two parishes in DuBois, St. Michael the Archangel as well as St. Joseph Church. Clement claims the sexual harassment took place at St. Joseph’s Church. According to the sexual harassment lawsuit, Clement alleges Kresinski consistently touched himself in an inappropriate manner while he was around her. Clement also accused Kresinski of “cupping his hand to adjust his genitals and pull them” in her presence on six different occasions in their meetings.
Clement alerted Kresinski’s superior, Joseph Street, director of religious education, about his misconduct, and she claims they refrained from investigating his alleged misbehavior without reason.

Clement described her workplace in March 2013 through October 2013 as a hostile work environment. She claims she was fired from her position for complaining about Kresinski’s actions and the lack of assistance she received to rectify the hostility. Prior to Clement termination, the Bishop of the Diocese of Erie, Lawrence Persico, requested that Clement “politely resign,” and sign a confidential agreement to prevent any future sexual harassment complaints or sexual harassment lawsuits brought against Kresinski or the Erie Diocese in August 2013. Clement declined the request that would shield sexual harassment in the workplace.

Erie Diocese attempts to control Workplace Sexual Harassment

As a result of the pending lawsuit, the Erie Diocese followed protocol and placed the accused priest Kresinski on an administrative leave of absence “effective immediately” until the ligation ends. The Erie Diocese isn’t siding with the plaintiff or the defendant. However, religious leaders can never be too sure, and would never want to put anyone else in the workplace in precarious predicament.
The Diocese of Erie is currently awaiting the arrival of the sexual harassment complaint from their attorney. They’re also withholding all comments regarding the lawsuit. Bishop Persico issued a letter informing the parish and church named in this lawsuit about the temporary leave Kresinski will take during the litigation. He also informed them about a replacement until the sexual harassment complaints have been resolved. According to the sexual harassment lawsuit, Kresinski has not been penalized for the sexual harassment allegations.

Clement fights for Justice in the Workplace

Clement’s sexual harassment attorney is aiming to seek unspecified compensatory damages for wage loss and punitive damages on behalf of her client. The sexual harassment attorney is also working towards getting Clement reinstated at work by the close of this lawsuit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission examined Clements charge filed in March 2014 and declared, “that there is reasonable cause to believe” Clements experienced sexual harassment in December. The following May, the EEOC provided Clement with a “right to sue letter.”
Most people will question why Clements would want to return to the environment that cause her endless stress and brought forth hostility into her professional life.

On one side that’s a great point to make, but one must realize that enduring sexual harassment does not decrease an individual’s professional capabilities. Clements have every right to work in a peace professional environment free from sexual harassment, workplace discrimination, and retaliation, especially in a religious place where everyone including employees should feel healthy, safe, and well.
In the months to come, the jury will rule in favor of Clement or the Diocese of Erie. Regardless of the outcome, one can only hope the Diocese of Erie enforces a strict sexual harassment procedure. It shows the other employees that no bad behavior goes unnoticed. As a Catholic priest who allegedly abstains from all sexual activity, one may find it puzzling to witness a priest on work probation for sexual harassment. Evidence has yet to surface indicating the allegations are true, but the confidential agreement request issued by the Bishop may raise a few flags and change the outlook.
If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment in a religious environment in New York City, Miami, New Jersey, or Philadelphia, contact us at 800-807-2209 for a free consultation. Our attorneys are available to review your claims and prepare a solid case to recover the damages and justice you deserved.

About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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