The United States Supreme Court issued two decisions this week in cases involving religion and the workplace. In one case, the Court held that religious organizations may not be sued for discrimination by their teachers. In the
Articles Discussing Religious Discrimination Under Title VII Of The Civil Rights Act Of 1964.
The U.S. Supreme Court has expanded the application of the First Amendment’s Religion Clauses to employment decisions made by religious institutions
Executive Summary: Today, July 8, 2020, the Supreme Court decided two cases – both by a 7 to 2 vote – involving the impact of religion in employment. First, the Supreme Court clarified the applicability of the Ministerial Exemption for religious organizations, including religious schools, from the federal antidiscrimination laws. Second, the Supreme Court upheld as valid two Trump Administration interim rules providing that employers who have sincerely held religious beliefs or moral objections against providing insurance coverage or payments for contraceptive services cannot be required to provide such coverage or payments.
Whether the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses prevent civil courts from adjudicating employment discrimination claims brought by employees against their religious employer, where the employee carried out important religious functions, is the question presented in two consolidated cases before the U.S. Supreme Court: Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, No. 19-267,
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review two consolidated cases that will afford it an opportunity to develop the “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws it first announced in a 2012 case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 565 U.S. 171. (See our article, ‘Ministerial Exception’ Bars Ministers’ Discrimination Claims, U.S. Supreme Court Rules.)
On December 11, 2019, President Donald Trump signed an executive order declaring his administration’s commitment to enforcing federal racial anti-discrimination provisions against discrimination “rooted in anti-Semitism.” Contrary to initial reports, the Executive Order Combating Anti-Semitism does not redefine Judaism as a race or nationality.
Two federal courts have struck down the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) “Conscience Protection Rule,” which was slated to go into effect on November 22, 2019.
The EEOC announced that it reached a $74,418 settlement with a hospital in Owosso, Michigan, to settle a religious discrimination lawsuit the agency had filed under Title VII against the hospital in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. See https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USEEOC/bulletins/24d7ec9; and https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/2-14-18.cfm.
Executive Summary: With Spring around the corner, many employers will begin to receive varying requests for religious accommodations related to the upcoming religious holidays. These requests often conflict with the employer’s work hours/days or employment duties. Employers who outright refuse an employee’s request for accommodation to celebrate these religious holidays may put the company at risk of a claim for religious discrimination. Federal and state laws do not require that an employee be given paid time off for a religious holiday. However, federal law does require an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation for the religious beliefs of an employee, if the accommodation does not create an undue burden for the employer. Courts look at a number of factors in determining whether the requested accommodation is reasonable. Each request for religious accommodation should be reviewed individually to determine if an accommodation can be made. If the accommodation cannot be made the employer must be able to demonstrate that the religious accommodation creates an undue hardship.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced the formation of the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The new division will review complaints from medical professionals who object on religious or moral grounds to participating in the provision of certain services and/or to certain patients. HHS has also released proposed regulations that would increase the OCR’s responsibility and enforcement power as to existing federal health care antidiscrimination laws involving protections for health care workers related to services such as abortion, sterilization, and assisted suicide.
The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case with potentially far-reaching implications for issues at the intersection of civil rights and religious freedoms on December 5, 2017. Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, No. 16-111.
Increasingly, employers are turning to biometric scanners – usually a fingerprint or hand scanner – to track employees’ working time. This method for clocking in and out is generally more efficient and accurate than traditional methods, such as using a punch clock.
Most employers know of the requirement to adjust any aspect of the working environment which may conflict with an employee’s religious beliefs. At the federal level, under Title VII, an employer must make reasonable accommodation for the religious observances of its employees, short of incurring an undue hardship. But what are religious accommodations? What proof may an employer request in order to establish that the employee is being sincere? The 4th Circuit recently examined a religious accommodation scenario that ended in an award of nearly $600,000 in damages and other benefits to the employee.
During a ceremony in the Rose Garden, President Trump signed a much-anticipated “Religious Liberty” executive order.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced that it filed a lawsuit last month against a South Carolina company that allegedly refused to accommodate a truck driver’s religious beliefs. The employee apparently subscribed to a Hebrew Pentecostal religious faith that forbade him from engaging in labor during the prescribed Sabbath (Saturday). The EEOC alleged that the trucking company engaged in religious discrimination against the driver after he was terminated for refusing to work a particular Saturday.