Faith Based Employers Vs. Americans with Disabilities Act

The Atlantic Church, State, and the Americans With Disabilities Act by Wendy Kaminer “Religious organizations enjoy essential and generally uncontested immunity from anti-discrimination laws in hiring and firing clergy according to religious doctrine […] But the scope of this exemption from employment laws, known as the “ministerial exception,” is hotly contested. Does it automatically apply to employees other than clergy — to parochial school teachers or administrators and others that religious employers might describe as important religious functionaries? That question is before the Supreme Court this term in Hosanna-Tabor v EEOC, scheduled for argument on October 5th.”

Religious organizations are exempt from many of Equal Employment Opportunity regulations. For example the Happy Time Daycare was renting space from the Point of Grace Church. The Church ended up running the daycare and any employees who wished to stay had to sign a Christian Lifestyle Agreement. The exclusion of homosexual staff members and the sudden change without notification angered parents. (Wild Hunt blog and WaukeePatch)

While most of the cases concerning discrimination between an employee and their faith based employer have been over religious ideology, this will be the first case concerning compliance with the ADA. Cheryl Perich is a Christian who taught kindergarten and elementary students at Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School. She became ill and went on disability leave. After returning from leave the school principal informed her she was being replaced.

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