70 Civil Rights Groups Urge Supreme Court to Protect Rights of Workers at Risk of Discrimination

Contact: Charmaine Riley, [email protected], 202.548.7166

WASHINGTON –The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, and National Women’s Law Center, along with 67 national, state, and local organizations, filed a “friend of the court” brief today urging the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of workers against discrimination by religious employers.

At issue are two cases: Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel (consolidated). Both cases assess whether the so-called “ministerial exception,” a court-created doctrine that allows religious employers to circumvent all civil rights protections for employees who are deemed “ministers,” can bar teachers from bringing forward claims of employment discrimination. The oral argument is scheduled for April 1, 2020.

“Women, people of color, older workers, workers with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workers, immigrant workers, and those with multiple and intertwining identities will be acutely harmed if the Court allows expansive immunity from civil rights protections,” the groups wrote.

“Employees, some of whom have minimal ties to religious duties, can be stripped of all of their civil rights protections by simply being assigned relatively minimal religious functions,” the groups state. “Religious employers have already tried to invoke the ministerial exception against all manner of employees, including receptionists, secretaries, custodians, and others, on similar grounds.”

The amicus brief is available here, and the participating organizations are listed below: American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association of University Women
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Atlanta Women for Equality
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
California Women Lawyers
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Center for Popular Democracy
Champion Women
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Coalition of Labor Union Women
Colorado Women’s Bar Association
Disability Rights Advocates
Equal Rights Advocates
Equality California
Family Values @ Work
Feminist Majority Foundation
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Harvard Law School Gender Violence Program
Human Rights Campaign
Interfaith Alliance
Justice for Migrant Women
KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.
Legal Aid at Work
Legal Voice
Movement Advancement Project
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
National Association of Women Lawyers
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Consumers League
National Council of Jewish Women
National Crittenton
National Education Association
National Employment Law Project
National Immigration Law Center
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women Foundation
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Political Caucus
National Workrights Institute
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
Partnership for Working Families
People For the American Way Foundation
Public Justice
QLaw Foundation of Washington
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
SAGE: Advocacy and Services for LGBT Elders
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
The Afiya Center
The Women’s Law Center of Maryland
Transformative Justice Coalition
Transgender Law Center
Unitarian Universalist Association
Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance
Women Employed
Women Lawyers On Guard Inc.
Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York
Women’s Law Project

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 www.civilrights.org.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund builds public will for federal policies that promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States. The Education Fund’s campaigns empower and mobilize advocates around the country to push for progressive change in the United States. It was founded in 1969 as the education and research arm of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. For more information on The Education Fund, visit civilrights.org/edfund/.