Portland, Oregon Civil Litigation Defense Attorneys - Kaempf Law Firm PC

A Blog by John Kaempf

DEFENSES AGAINST CLAIMS BY FIRED TEACHERS

Religious schools and churches periodically terminate or discipline a teacher or other employee who violated tenets of the religion at issue, such as premarital cohabitation. Employers taking such actions have a complete defense to discrimination claims arising from such decisions based on the religion clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the corresponding provisions of the Oregon Constitution.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Article 1, Section 3 of the Oregon Constitution states: “No law shall in any case whatever control the free exercise, and enjoyment of religious opinions, or interfere with the rights of conscience.” Continue reading

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MINISTERIAL EXCEPTION TO DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS BY TEACHERS

Teachers and other employees of religious schools sometimes sue for discrimination, including claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The law, however, recognizes a ministerial exception to such claims based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states, in relevant part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The ministerial exception precludes application of employment discrimination statutes to claims concerning the employment relationship between a religious institution and its ministers. Continue reading

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