Madison man fired for being gay - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison man fired for being gay


MADISON (WKOW) -- Charles Philyaw worked four years as music director at the St. Andrew Catholic Church in Verona. 

He says his supervisor fired him this summer after worshipers complained he was too open about his sexual orientation.  

"He said having an openly gay male employed at the Church is a scandal," said Philyaw, recounting the conversation. 

"I felt betrayed. But I'm not bitter."  

The Madison Catholic Diocese declined an interview request citing their policy of not discussing personnel issues.  

Philyaw says he's never had any problems at work before and claims the Church knew he was gay when they hired him.  

Still, employment lawyers there's nothing illegal about what happened.  

"The Church is not supposed to have the state sticking its nose in its ecclesiastical positions," said employment lawyer Tamara Packard.  

Packard says religious institutions are exempt from anti-discrimination laws so long as the affected employee holds a ministerial or ecclesiastical position. 

She says it's unclear whether music director qualifies, and it's yet to be tested in Wisconsin courts.  

Philyaw says he has no plans for a lawsuit.  

He's just disappointed.   "I don't understand why they pretended to be our friends," he said.   Philyaw is now working in night clubs.

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