Victory: On June 7, 2022, the 10th Circuit denied Faith Christian Academy’s appeal, allowing Gregory Tucker’s claim that he was discriminated against under Title VII to proceed. Mr. Tucker was fired after he organized an assembly to address ongoing racist incidents at the school. The 10th Circuit dismissed the employer’s appeal, holding that the ministerial exception is properly understood as an affirmative defense and cannot be used to bar employees from bringing suit altogether. The court further underscored that whether an employee should be considered a “minister” and denied civil rights workplace protections requires a “fact-intensive inquiry.” The majority decision supports the arguments made in NWLC’s amicus brief that courts must undertake a serious analysis before employees are deemed ministers. Thus, employers should not be able to rely solely on formulaic paperwork or handbooks to classify employees as ministers and thereby deny their critical workplace civil rights protections.
The National Women’s Law Center, along with our law firm partner Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and 37 other organizations, filed an amicus brief in the 10th Circuit Court in support of Gregory Tucker, an employee at Faith Christian Academy (FCA) who was fired after speaking out against race discrimination. FCA is attempting to strip Mr. Tucker of his civil rights protections using the “ministerial exception,” a doctrine designed to let houses of worship hire their own faith leaders. The arguments made by FCA are yet another dangerous example of employers seeking to use religion as a means by which they can deny employees workplace protections. For more background on the case, please read our blog.