United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
JANAY E. GARRICK, Plaintiff,
MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE and THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES FOR THE MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
Z. LEE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Janay Garrick, a former faculty member of Defendant Moody
Bible Institute (“Moody”), has sued Moody and its
Board of Trustees, alleging that it unlawfully terminated her
employment because of her advocacy in favor of women serving
as clergy members. Moody moves to dismiss Garrick’s
first amended complaint under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), contending that its rights
under the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses bar
Garrick’s claims. For the reasons that follow,
Moody’s motion  is granted.
is a post-secondary religious educational institution
offering both undergraduate and graduate courses of study; it
accepts federal financial aid. Pl.’s 3d Modified 1st
Am. Compl. (“FAC”) ¶¶ 1, 5, ECF No. 67.
Garrick, who is proceeding in this lawsuit pro se,
worked at Moody as an Instructor of Communications from
December 1, 2014, to December 31, 2017. Id. ¶
to being hired by Moody, Garrick was an ordained minister
with a Master’s degree in cross-cultural studies and a
Bachelor’s degree in creative writing and speech
communications. Id. ¶ 20. She identifies as an
“egalitarian Christian” and believes in gender
equality in ministry. Id. ¶ 22. While
interviewing at Moody, she informed her superiors of her
egalitarian beliefs. Id. Moody hired her with
“full knowledge” of her beliefs and twice renewed
her contract with this knowledge. Id.
to Garrick, she “quickly learned” that Moody
“both tolerated and cultivated an environment that was
hostile to female faculty and students.” Id.
¶ 24. This was primarily driven by Moody’s
“complementarian” doctrine, which “excludes
women from certain roles within the church due to their
gender, ” id. ¶ 136, as well as
Moody’s general stances on gender and sexuality,
see Id . ¶¶ 30, 48. The conflict between
Moody’s and Garrick’s views played out in a
number of ways during her two-year tenure.
before Garrick’s interview in October 2014, Larry
Davidhizar, the Vice President and Associate Provost of
Faculty, told Garrick to remove the statement that she was an
ordained minister from her resume. Id. ¶ 25.
Furthermore, when she was hired, administrators did not
inform her that she could claim a tax deduction for housing
costs as an ordained minister. Id. ¶ 26.
Although she took steps to claim the deduction by filing her
ordination license with Moody, she lost the opportunity to
take the deduction for a full year. Id.
February 2015, a lesbian student approached Garrick about
hostility she was experiencing because of her sexual
orientation. Id. ¶ 30. When Garrick brought the
student’s concerns to Tim Arens, the Dean of Student
Life, he warned her that Moody had “community living
standards.” Id. The student was later
2015, Garrick was asked to assist in forming a committee to
address women’s concerns on campus-the “Respect
for Women Personally and Ministerially” group.
Id. ¶ 28. From the outset, this group was
“viewed with suspicion and hostility, ” and
administrators told Garrick to expect any change to be
“small and incremental.” Id.
other female students came to Garrick for help in October
2015 and January 2016, respectively. Id.
¶¶ 31–32. Both students wanted to enter
Moody’s Pastoral Ministry Program, but it was closed to
women. Id. Garrick helped one of the students lodge
a complaint against Moody under Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972. Id. ¶ 35. But Garrick soon
came under fire for this advocacy. At the inaugural meeting
of the Respect for Women Personally and Ministerially group
on February 17, 2016, she was rebuked for filing the
complaint and asked how she could have “any
integrity.” Id. ¶¶ 36, 113–14.
met with Debbie Zelinski, the Vice President of Human
Resources, on February 19, 2016, to address the
“backlash” she had suffered from her Title IX
advocacy, as well as “antagonism” she was
suffering from male colleagues in a shared workroom.
Id. ¶¶ 29, 115. Zelinski suggested that
Garrick should simply avoid the workroom and get her own
printer so she could work in her office instead. Id.
then met with Davidhizar and Bryan O’Neal, Dean of the
Undergraduate Faculty, on February 23. Id. ¶
38. Davidhizar and O’Neal suggested that she
“might not be able to continue in the faculty and told
her she should voluntarily leave [Moody].” Id.
¶ 38, 116. Davidhizar additionally instructed Garrick to
remove herself from her role in organizing and co-leading the
Respect for Women Professionally and Ministerially group.
Id. ¶ 117. Garrick resisted their suggestions
and continued to fight in favor of female students entering
the Pastoral Ministry Program, despite objections from
administrators and other faculty members to women preaching.
Id. ¶¶ 40–45.
meeting for faculty and administrators in September 2016,
Garrick spoke out against a male theology professor’s
proposal to require all students to “sign a statement
affirming their belief in and adherence to a biblically
orthodox position on human sexuality.” Id.
¶ 48. Along with a male faculty member, Garrick
submitted a counter-proposal with an “inclusive”
message. Id. In response, Davidhizar pulled her into
his office the next day and told her that the speech was
“inflammatory rhetoric, ” and that she was
“not a Moody fit.” Id. ¶ 49.
Garrick alleges that her male co-presenter was never
subjected to similar disciplinary action. Id.
thereafter, Garrick submitted a written application for a
promotion to Assistant Professor. Id. ¶¶
50–51. Garrick asserts that she was qualified for the
promotion and already had performed the work of an Assistant
Professor, such as developing numerous courses, creating
“institution-wide initiatives like the publication of a
new art and theology journal, ” and developing an
educational plan for ESL students. Id. ¶¶
52–54. Still, Moody denied Garrick’s request,
stating that she needed to “improve her fit within the
division.” Id. ¶ 55.
then underwent a series of performance reviews. She first
received an informal performance review on December 3, 2016,
from Terry Strandt, Chair of the Music and Media Arts
Division, who congratulated her on “two years of
excellent service, ” and described her teaching as
“concise, clear[, ] and engaging.” Id.
early 2017, Davidhizar told her that she had
“performance and interpersonal issues, ” and that
she should not expect to receive a contract renewal following
Spring Recess. Id. ¶¶ 59, 120. Moreover,
directly contradicting Strandt’s review just months
before, Brian Kammerzelt, the head of the Communications
Program, told Garrick that Strandt had found her to be
performing “below standards, ” and threatened to
demote her. Id. ¶ 59.
also informed Garrick that she had been subjected to peer
reviews, which (according to Garrick) did not apply to male
faculty members. Id. ¶ 97(b), 121(d). Garrick
asked to see the results, but was never given the
information. Id. ¶ 121(g). Garrick eventually
received a formal performance review from Strandt on March
30, which criticized her performance. Id.
¶¶ 60, 121(a).
April 5, 2017, Garrick received an email stating that
Davidhizar would like to meet with her “to discuss
[her] vocal non-alignment with [Moody’s] doctrinal
statement as it relates to ‘Gender Roles in
Ministry.’” Id. ¶ 122. On April 12,
she met with Davidhizar and the Vice President of Human
Resources. Id. ¶ 61.
this meeting, Davidhizar told Garrick that she did not fit in
at Moody, and that she was not “aligned with
[Moody’s] doctrinal statement as it related to gender
roles in ministry.” Id. Faculty members at
Moody are required to annually sign its doctrinal statement,
which describes certain gender roles for those in ministry.
According to Garrick, however, Moody “selectively
enforces adherence” to the doctrine, “and this
enforcement disproportionately affects female faculty”
like herself “who do not ‘align’ or
‘adhere.’” Id. ¶¶ 67(i),
138(b)–139. For instance, there were “key male
Moody Radio personnel who did not affirm” the
“Gender Roles in Ministry” statement but who
remained employed at Moody. Id. ¶ 137.
was officially terminated on April 17 or 18, on account of
“her egalitarian views on gender roles in
ministry.” Id. ¶¶ 62, 124. At the
time, she was informed that she could continue teaching until
the end of the semester and remain as a non-teaching faculty
member until December 31, 2017. Id. ¶ 62. But,
on April 26, Moody asked her to leave campus and return her
keys without finishing the semester. Id. Garrick
asserts that this was in response to her having spoken to
students and student reporters about her termination.
Id. ¶¶ 62, 124–25.
claims that her sudden ouster on April 26 violated the
Faculty Manual and Employee Information Guide. The Manual,
which Garrick contends is incorporated into the Faculty
Contract, provides: “If for some reason a faculty
member is not to be retained after the Spring semester,
notification will be given to the teacher concerning this
decision by the last Friday in November of the Fall semester,
except for such serious violations of Institute policy which
may result in immediate termination.” Id.
¶¶ 81–85, id. Ex. B, Excerpt from
result, Garrick filed an internal grievance on May 17, 2017.
Id. ¶ 63. In it, she alleged that Moody already
had been aware of her doctrinal disagreement when it hired
her and that it was only after she began advocating for
students’ Title IX rights that she was fired.
Id. ¶¶ 63–64. Garrick alleges that
Moody made her grievance process “impossible” and
that she was denied “any manner of reasonable due
process.” Id. ¶ 126. Still, during the
administrative hearing, Davidhizar admitted that Garrick had
informed him of her egalitarian views during her interview in
October 2014. Id. ¶ 127. Despite this
testimony, Moody denied Garrick’s grievance on July 24,
2017, and it also terminated two female professors who had
challenged Moody during Garrick’s grievance process.
Id. ¶ 66.
of the events that led to her firing, Garrick alleges that
women at Moody were generally subjected to different
standards than men. For instance, she says, she was denied a
reduced teaching load while completing a terminal degree in
her field, even though men were given that accommodation.
Id. ¶ 98. Not only that, but she was required
to develop and complete five new undergraduate courses, which
exceeded her stated responsibilities, while recently hired
male instructors were not made to do the same. Id.
Garrick claims, female instructors were confined to programs
like the Communications Program, while “the more
prestigious Bible and Theology Programs” were staffed
exclusively by male instructors. Id. ¶¶
27, 67(e)-(f). Moody’s annual Pastor’s Conference
never included female speakers as main session speakers;
there were a “disproportionate” number of male to
female speakers at required student chapels; and female
faculty were denied the opportunity to speak at
“President’s Chapel.” Id. ...