Supreme Court Strips Employees of Civil Rights Protections in Religious Workplaces

Contact: Charmaine Riley, [email protected],  202.548.7166

WASHINGTON – Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, issued the following statement after the Supreme Court ruled that religious schools can use the so-called “ministerial exception” to justify employment discrimination in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel.

“This misguided ruling gives religious employers the green light to discriminate against math teachers, nurses, receptionists, janitors, and other employees who primarily perform non-religious duties. Nearly 300,000 people who work at religious institutions now risk being stripped of their basic civil rights. Religious freedom is a fundamental principle in our society, but it should not be exploited to harm working people. Courts must remain vigilant to ensure that employers do not abuse the ministerial exception to unfairly shield themselves from civil rights liability.”

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, National Women’s Law Center, and 67 additional national, state, and local organizations filed a “friend of the court” brief in March urging the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of workers being discriminated against by religious employers.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 220 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit