Former Pastor Files Discrimination Suit Against St. Stephen Baptist Church

by Devin Katayama on January 3, 2012

A Louisville-area pastor has filed a complaint against St. Stephen Baptist Church, accusing the church of reassigning him because of his race.

St. Stephen is Kentucky’s largest African-American congregation and includes a satellite location in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Pastor Billy Hollins, who is African-American, worked for the church from 2001 until August last year.

Hollins filed a suit in November saying he was reassigned from the Indiana church in 2007 after Senior Reverend Kevin Cosby told him the pastor in Jeffersonville needed to reflect that branch’s growing Caucasian population. Hollins also claims that worker’s compensation payments were underpaid.

But those accusations lack legal and factual merit, said attorney Gordon Rowe who represents Cosby and the church. While Rowe would not discuss specific arguments against the claims, he did say he expects both sides to begin the discovery phase, including any depositions, in the next 30 days.

At this point there has been no firm deadline on discovery but both parties are likely eager to move this forward, he said.

Hollins’ attorney Stuart Alexander would not comment directly on the case but in an email sent to WFPL said, “I would expect that discovery by both parties will begin in the near future.”

When asked whether the prominence of St. Stephen Baptist Church would have any affect on the case, Rowe said it’s likely the facts will speak for themselves.

“Reverend Cosby and St. Stephen have made very positive contributions to the Louisville community. I don’t expect that will prejudice anyone to make a decision one way or another,” he said.

The complaint says Hollins was underpaid by the church for worker’s compensation claims after he was involved in a work related accident in 2010. It further claims this lead to the church’es decision to let him go.

Hollins claims he was able to perform his job with necessary medication and that the firing was discriminatory.

Cosby and Hollins could not be reached for comment.

Click here to see a copy of the complaint.

 

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