Teacher Fired for Inappropriate Behavior Files Complaint

Heritage Christian Academy dismissed a teacher (who also served as the volleyball coach) after she admittedly engaged in sex outside of marriage, violating the specific terms of her written contract and HCA’s policies—terms which included serving as a Christian role model and adhering to a Biblical code of conduct. After her dismissal, however, the teacher filed a charge of discrimination against the school with the EEOC.

Legal Action

HCA retained First Liberty Institute to represent the school. First Liberty defended the school’s freedom to make hiring and firing decisions based on its religious beliefs, and the EEOC declined to proceed with the teacher’s claim.

Religious organizations in America have strong religious liberty protections concerning their decisions regarding hiring and firing—protections affirmed and clarified by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 9-0 decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC (2012). First Liberty Institute filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in Hosanna-Tabor on behalf of religious schools nationwide, including the Jewish Educational Center, Association of Christian Schools International, and The North American Division of Seventh Day Adventists Office of Education. Hosanna-Tabor made clear that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment bar employees, who are in ministry position, from bringing wrongful termination actions against faith-based organizations for alleged violations of employment discrimination laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hosanna-Tabor recognized that the First Amendment grants religious ministries, including schools like HCA, broad freedom to make decisions concerning the hiring and firing of those in ministry positions without government interference.

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