The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from former employees of the Christian relief organization World Vision who lost their jobs because they no longer believed in the organization’s statement of faith. This means that Christian organizations are not violating discrimination laws when they hire only Christians.
The U.S. Supreme Court let a lower court decision stand Monday that Federal Way-based nonprofit World Vision can hire only Christians to work in its U.S. operations.
The largest nonprofit in the state has the right to hire or dismiss employees based on their religious affiliation, the court ruled by allowing the lower court decision to stand.
The four-year court fight was initiated by three former World Vision employees who were fired because they didn’t agree with World Vision’s U.S. statement of faith, which World Vision says is a condition of employment.
In August, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that World Vision could legally discriminate in hiring based on religious affiliation. The court, upholding a lower court ruling on a discrimination suit, said World Vision qualifies as a faith-based humanitarian organization and is exempt from the Civil Rights Act. The U.S. Supreme Court Monday affirmed that appeals court decision by refusing to hear the case.
In a related issue, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday on the case involving an LCMS school that fired a called teacher for her health problems. At issue is whether a church body can designate a called teacher a “minister,” even though she teaches non-religious subjects, and so invoke the “ministerial exemption” from disability and other anti-discrimination laws.