A Roman Catholic nurse who sued the Erie County Health Department claiming she was punished for refusing to teach sex education has settled the lawsuit and resigned her job.
Maria Sulewski, 55, opposes birth control and contraception. She claimed she was punished with a less desirable work assignment in November 2006 after refusing to do a presentation on birth control and contraception for two area elementary and junior high schools. She sued the health department, health commissioner Peter Schade, and two supervisors.
One of Sulewski's attorneys, Patrick J. Perotti, contended that Sulewski received further punishment after she sued.
"In response to our filing a suit, they instructed her she was terminated as a school nurse and ordered her to report as a home health nurse," Perotti said.
The county's health board approved a $12,500 settlement on Tuesday in the case. Sulewski is getting $5,000 with $7,500 going to her lawyers at Dworken and Bernstein Co. In return, Sulewski has dismissed her lawsuit and promised not to pursue any other claims against the health department.
Schade said the health department gave Sulewski her school nurse job back in September, but she resigned effective Oct. 15. Schade said he did not know why Sulewski left.
Sulewski is not listed in the phone book and could not be reached for comment. Her lawyers did not return two telephone calls seeking comment.
"There wasn't any wrongdoing," said attorney Terry Griffith, who represents the health department. She pointed out that as part of the settlement, the health department maintains it did nothing wrong.
The settlement agreement says that Sulewski acknowledges the payment to her "shall not be construed as an admission of liability and is solely paid to preclude additional litigation expenses."