Winter Park church, lesbian couple reach settlement over job termination

Jaclyn Pfeiffer, Kelly Bardier get $30,000 from United Methodist Church

Local 6: Morning News at 6a
Local 6: Morning News at 6a

WINTER PARK, Fla. – A Winter Park church has come to an agreement with two day care employees who claimed they were fired because of their sexual orientation.

According to their attorney, Jaclyn Pfeiffer and Kelly Bardier settled with Aloma United Methodist Church for an amount close to $30,000 after they say the church asked them to leave their jobs at the church-run day care because they're gay.

Rev. Jim Govatos, senior pastor at the church, says the women were not fired, but quit.

"We are a church, and we have the ability and the right by law, and I think the responsibility to set behavioral standards that reflect our understanding of scriptural values," he said.

Govatos says one of those standards is that all day care employees refrain from sexual relations outside of legally-recognized marriage.

"We have exercised discipline over employees who were heterosexual doing the same thing. not all of them were terminated because they revised their living arrangements," he said.

Former teacher Jaclyn Pfeiffer and her partner Kelly Bardier, a substitute at the school, were aware of the rules, according to Govatos, and were given an opportunity to correct their lifestyle after admitting to the director they were in a sexual relationship outside of work.

Govatos said the women decided to quit, and hired an attorney.

"I feel like if a person can do their job -- gay, straight or whatever -- they should be able to work and do their job that they love to do," said Pfeiffer.

The church settled with the women, for an amount close to $30,000 - to keep the peace, according to Govatos.

"The same Bible that informs our sexual ethic also tells us - as insofar as possible, live at peace with everyone. and we take that very seriously," he said.