Law360 Covers Robinson Bradshaw Brief in Religious Discrimination Case



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Dec. 10, 2022

A recent Law360 article reviewed an amicus brief that Robinson Bradshaw has filed in a case over whether the religious exemption to Title VII and a religious organization’s First Amendment rights allow it to discriminate against non-ministerial employees on the basis of race, national origin or sex. Robinson Bradshaw represents the North Carolina Council of Churches, Charlotte Clergy Coalition for Justice and Caldwell Presbyterian Church in filing the amicus brief.

The case stems from a local Catholic school’s decision to fire a teacher after he posted about his same-sex wedding on social media. A North Carolina federal judge previously ruled in the teacher’s favor, finding that he was unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII. The amicus brief urges the Fourth Circuit to uphold that ruling, arguing that neither the religious exemption to Title VII nor religious freedom under the First Amendment should extend to allowing discrimination based on invidious grounds, as that does not meet a religious need – especially in non-ministerial positions. The brief goes on to say that allowing such discrimination would require the government to discern and evaluate the religious motivation behind discriminatory decisions, complicating church-state relations more than simplifying them. The brief also points out harms that could result from adopting the rule urged by the school in the form of allowing and even furthering discrimination against vulnerable groups.

Robinson Bradshaw attorneys J. Dickson Phillips III, Julian H. Wright Jr., Erik R. Zimmerman and Garrett A. Steadman represent the amici parties in the brief. The Law360 article is available here (a subscription is required to view).

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