Supreme Court sides with religious schools, teachers not protected by employment discrimination laws

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Washington, D.C. — The U.S Supreme Court is siding with two catholic schools in an anti-discrimination lawsuit.

The justices ruled that religious schools have a “ministerial exception” – meaning that religious groups must be allowed to hire and fire teachers without court intervention.

The decision will likely impact the Indiana cases of two former guidance counselors at Roncalli High School and a teacher at Cathedral High. They sued the schools and the Archdiocese of Indianapolis after getting fired over their same-sex marriages.

We spoke to an IU law professor who explained the cases will depend on whether the teachers were considered to have “ministerial duties.”

“The opinion confirms that you don’t have to have the title of minister. You don’t have to have specialized training. Simply having duties, one assigned duty that involves the teaching of the doctrine or the practices of the religion is enough to qualify a teacher as a minister,” said Jennifer Drobac, Professor of Law at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
 
In a statement released Wednesday, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis says it welcomes the supreme court’s decision.

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision recognizing that Catholic schools must be free to make decisions about those entrusted to educate and form students in the Catholic faith. Catholic educators play a vital role in guiding their students, by word and deed, and passing on the faith to future generations.”

Archdiocese of Indianapolis 

The issue was brought before the Supreme Court by two California teachers who filed lawsuits. One claimed she was fired for her age. The other’s contract was not renewed after telling the principal she had breast cancer. Her school claims the decision was made due to “classroom management”. The teacher has since passed away.

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