Court Protects Religious Hiring Practices
Special Report - October 5, 2011
In the opening days of its new term, the United States Supreme Court opted to let stand a lower court ruling that religious organizations may use religious-based criteria in their hiring and practices. The Ninth Circuit for the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in August 2010 that the “Christian humanitarian organization,” World Vision, qualifies as a “religious corporation, association, … or society,” as required by law in order to be “exempt from Title VII’s prohibition against religious discrimination.” The lawsuit was initially brought by three employees who were fired when World Vision determined that they held beliefs “incompatible with World Vision’s doctrinal beliefs.” The employees argued that World Vision was primarily a humanitarian, not religious organization, and therefore not exempt from Title VII. Ultimately, the Ninth Circuit ruled that World Vision did qualify for the exemption as a religious organization because its “humanitarian relief efforts flow from a profound sense of religious mission.” By opting not to accept an appeal of the case, the Supreme Court gave tacit approval to the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
The Court did accept a related case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Luther Church and School v. EEOC, which explores whether federal employment discrimination statutes apply to teachers in religious elementary schools. Oral arguments in that case are scheduled for October 5.
In related news, last week, the Supreme Court decided whether to accept or reject numerous cases for consideration during its upcoming term. The Court is expected to hear oral arguments for 36 cases during the first three months of its 2011 term. In total, the Court has accepted 48 cases to date, although that number could rise. Some of the cases that were either denied a hearing or have not yet been accepted by the Supreme Court are notable, including:
Emerging Threats to Conscience - May 16, 2011
Groups Fight for Religious Freedom - August 31, 2010
Grandparents Rights Bill Discussed - June 6, 2011
Parental Rights: The Guardians of Freedom - FNC - Summer, 2011
Court Rules in Favor of Ten Commandments Display - March 28, 2005
Louisiana Same-Sex Adoption Case - October 11, 2010
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