Ep. 05: Supreme Court cases on employment discrimination

Mar 19, 2020

The coronavirus is leading many conversations this week, and we’ll talk about how it has impacted religious communities during this unprecedented time. But first, Amanda Tyler and Holly Holllman take a look at several Supreme Court cases this term that deal with protections for workers from employment discrimination that could have implications for religious organizations. They break down the term “because of sex” in Title VII (starting at 4:30) and discuss the ministerial exception (18:20), an important part of the law that protects religious organizations. On the final segment, Amanda and Holly share how the coronavirus is impacting – and showcasing – religion in the lives of Americans and how we can lean into a theology of abundance during this time (34:40).


Show notes:

Segment 1: Title VII cases and the phrase “because of sex” (starting at 00:40)

Read the Supreme Court press release announcing the postponement of oral arguments because of COVID-19 at this link.

For more resources on the three “because of sex” cases (Bostock v. Clayton County, Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC), Holly recommended the resources available at SCOTUSblog, including this piece wrapping up oral arguments by Amy Howe.

The podcast mentioned by Amanda is Amicus with Dahlia Lithwick. The episode featuring Dean Erwin Chemerinsky previewing the Title VII cases is available at this link.

If you want to listen to the oral arguments in the Title VII case mentioned, visit this C-SPAN link.


Segment 2: Ministerial exception case (starting at 17:22)

Learn more about the 2012 case affirming the ministerial exception on BJC’s website: BJConline.org/Hosanna-Tabor

Amanda mentioned a 2011 article Holly wrote titled “Defining the ministerial exception.”

If you want to read all of the amicus briefs in the current ministerial exception case (Our Lady of Guadalupe v. Morissey-Berru), you can see them at this link.


Segment 3: Where did we see religion in our world? The coronavirus and religious communities (starting at 34:40)

Holly mentioned articles that did a great job showing religious communities responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including this piece on communion and rituals by Sarah Pulliam Bailey for The Washington Post.

Holly also mentioned the op-ed titled “In Italy, we live in silence, die in silence — and wait.” It was written by Monica Maggioni and published by The Washington Post.

Holly talked about a piece from George Mason and Mark Wingfield at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, who put their experiences during the Ebola crisis into context. It’s titled “How to lead calmly in a global outbreak,” published by Faith & Leadership at Duke Divinity School.


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