Supreme Court Oral Argument: Religious Organization Employees & Discrimination Claims

Supreme Court Oral Argument on Religious Organization Employees and Discrimination Claims

The Supreme Court heard oral argument via teleconference due to the coronavirus pandemic. The case involves religious freedom and whether federal… read more

The Supreme Court heard oral argument via teleconference due to the coronavirus pandemic. The case involves religious freedom and whether federal courts have a role in discrimination cases filed by employees employed by a religious institution. Under federal employment discrimination law, federal courts cannot take up discrimination claims from ministers against their religious employers. This is often referred to as the ministerial exception. This legal doctrine aims to ensure religious freedom in that religious institutions cannot be sued by employees who perform religious duties. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a teacher employed at a religious school could be considered a minister, but under certain guidelines. Both of schools in this consolidated oral argument are Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 2013, Kristen Biel was hired to teach fifth grade at the St. James School. She taught all subjects, including a religious education component daily, led her students in prayer every day and ushered them to mass once a month. In November of that year, the school’s principal observed and evaluated her, giving her a mixed review and said she needed some improvement. In spring 2014, the principal allegedly saw no improvements and informed her that she might not get a contract offer for the next school year. Later that spring, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and informed the school that she would need some time off for treatment. The principal then informed her that her contract would not be renewed. Biel filed an employment disability discrimination claim against the school with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The commission sided with her. She filed suit in federal district court but lost. On appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals she won. Agnes Morrisey-Berru taught at Our Lady of Guadalupe from 1999 to 2014. She mainly taught fifth and sixth grade students. She, too, had similar roles to Biel in that she taught daily religious education classes and led daily prayer with students. In 2014 and 2015, she moved to be part-time at the school for negative performance reviews. The school did not renew her contract afterwards. She filed an age discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The commission also sided with her. Her lawsuit was first filed in federal district court and ultimately ended up in the Ninth Circuit where they, too, ruled in her favor, saying she does not fall under the ministerial exception. The court has through June 2020 to issue a ruling. close

Report Video Issue

Points of Interest

For quick viewing, C-SPAN provides Points of Interest markers for some events.

Click the play button and tap the screen to see the at the bottom of the player. Tap the to see a complete list of all Points of Interest - click on any moment in the list and the video will play.

SCOTUSblog is an independent organization and their commentary does not represent the views of C‑SPAN.

SCOTUSblog is an independent organization and their commentary does not represent the views of C‑SPAN.

Points of Interest

For quick viewing, C-SPAN provides Points of Interest markers for some events.

Click the play button and move your cursor over the video to see the . Click on the marker to see the description and watch.

You can also click the in the lower left of the video player to see a complete list of all Points of Interest from this program - click on any moment in the list and the video will play.

People in this video

More People

Hosting Organization

More information about

Supreme Court Oral Argument on Religious Organization Employees and Discrimination Claims

4,433 Views
Program ID:
471674-1
Category:
Public Affairs Event
Format:
Judicial Proceeding
Location:
Washington, District of Columbia, United States
First Aired:
May 11, 2020 | 11:35am EDT | C-SPAN 1
Last Aired:
May 12, 2020 | 5:08am EDT | C-SPAN 2

Airing Details

  • May 11, 2020 | 11:00am EDT | C-SPAN RADIO
  • May 11, 2020 | 11:35am EDT | C-SPAN 1
  • May 11, 2020 | 5:20pm EDT | C-SPAN 1
  • May 11, 2020 | 11:27pm EDT | C-SPAN 2
  • May 12, 2020 | 12:30am EDT | C-SPAN RADIO
  • May 12, 2020 | 5:08am EDT | C-SPAN 2
Purchase a Download

Supreme Court Oral Argument on Religious Organization Employees and Discrimination Claims

  • MP4 video - Standard
    Price:
    $6.99
  • MP3 audio - Standard
    Price:
    $0.99

User Created Clips from This Video