Nine former employees of Imani Christian Academy sued the East Hills school today, alleging that they lost their jobs because of their association with the religious group Petra International Ministries.
The 20-year-old K-12 private school was founded by Petra, a Christian organization led by Bishop Donald O. Clay Jr. According to the 22-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court, there was a longstanding divide between Imani employees who were members of Petra, and those who were not.
Principal Marilyn Barnett and others called the Petra members "Petranites" and considered them "too spiritual," according to the complaint, and sought to disassociate the school from the religious organization.
The plaintiffs include teachers, managers, coordinators, a developmental advisor and a security person, and they want back pay and a return to their posts.
The plaintiffs were all fired in June 2012 and other staff clapped at a meeting when Ms. Barnett said the school "can move on now that they're all gone," according to the complaint.
That constitutes discrimination based on the former employees' affiliation with a religious institution and based on their religious expression, according to the complaint filed by attorney Anthony C. Mengine.
Ms. Barnett could not be immediately reached for comment.
Rich Lord: email@example.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord.