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Supreme Court rules teachers at religious school aren't covered by employment discrimination laws

July 8, 2020
The court says religious schools have a "ministerial exception" that allows them to supersede employment discrimination laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of two religious schools that argued they should not have to face employment discrimination lawsuits brought by former teachers

CNBC reports that the case concerned the “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws that protects religious employers from certain lawsuits brought by employees. It was brought by two Catholic schools in California that were sued by teachers whose employment was terminated.

“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 an opinion for the 7-2 majority.

“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,” he wrote.

The schools argued that the ministerial exception prevented them from facing those lawsuits, but the teachers countered that they should not qualify as ministers under the 2012 Supreme Court precedent that established the rule.

Panels of the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the teachers, allowing them to move forward with their lawsuits.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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