People For the American Way

PFAW: SCOTUS Must Not “Push the Envelope” in Religious School Cases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 11, 2020

Contact: Laurie Kinney at People For the American Way

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202.467.2307

WASHINGTON, D.C.— With the Supreme Court set to hear arguments today in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James Catholic School v. Biel, in which religious schools claims that lay teachers are “ministers” and exempt from civil rights protections afforded other types of employees, PFAW Executive Vice President for Policy and Program Marge Baker released the following statement:

“Allowing religious schools to categorize their lay teachers as ‘ministers’ with virtually no employee rights would set a very concerning precedent. If that were to happen, these employees would have no legal recourse in cases of harassment, discrimination, unfair pay or unfair termination, to name just a few. The ‘ministerial exception’ that applies to employment conditions for religious leaders of congregations has been understood to apply to very limited and specific types of employees, and this is an attempt to push the envelope in a way that strips lay employees of critical rights. We strongly believe that the Supreme Court should maintain the limits of the ministerial exception as it has been interpreted up until now.”

PFAW joined a friend-of-the court brief in favor of the teachers that is available here. A brief PFAW analysis of the lower court decision in the Biel case can be found here.

About People For the American Way

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunityLearn more: http://www.pfaw.org.