The United States Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that civil courts cannot be involved in employment discrimination brought against religious organizations when the employees are serving a religious function, Fox News is reporting. The decision was made by a 7-2 vote and expands on a 2012 decision that said religious organizations have a ministerial exception for employment discrimination lawsuits.
“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and therefore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the court’s opinion. “Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”
The decision was made because of two cases involving teachers at religious schools who claim they were discriminated again. One teacher in Los Angeles said the school did not renew her contract because of her age. In the second case, also in Los Angeles, another teacher claimed she was asked to leave due to breast cancer treatment. Both teachers did not have a formal religious title, but the court said that since they both taught religion and had contracts to uphold the religious mission of the schools they worked for.
The Supreme court said the ministerial exception doesn’t apply to just clergy, and religious organizations can determine who play key roles regardless of their formal religious title.