Rohrer alleges that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America created a hostile work environment from his first day on the job in May 2021. He claims that he was deliberately misgendered, ridiculed for featuring drag queens at his ordination, and harassed for being transgender.
Rohrer is seeking monetary damages and claims that the church retaliated when he reported the alleged discrimination, as well as labor violations that ELCA was allegedly committing.
According to the lawsuit, when Rohrer revealed the transgender harassment he had been suffering since beginning his job, the church terminated him and falsely accused him of “weaponizing” his own identity as a trans person to “avoid being held accountable.” The former bishop accused ELCA of then using him as a scapegoat after Rohrer fired the pastor of a predominantly Latino, immigrant congregation in Stanton, California, on the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The firing caused the congregation to lose the denomination’s financial backing, and they were forced to vacate their building and worship in the parking lot. The congregants blamed Rohrer, claiming he carried out the firing in a racist manner and recommended he undergo racial sensitivity training. Instead, Rohrer claims ELCA forced him to resign the following day.
Since his June resignation, Rohrer has received “nearly-daily hate mail” that includes death threats. Rohrer now works as a senior communications specialist with a Black nondenominational church in San Francisco because his firing prohibits him from working as a bishop of a synod or even as a pastor at ELCA. The ELCA declined to comment.