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Express Yourself

Potential claims liabilities and defenses involving the expression of religious beliefs

October 08, 2018 Photo

CLM’s Religious and Non-Profit Committee recently presented a webinar that examined the developing state of potential claims liabilities and defenses involving the expression of religious beliefs.

12:00:00 p.m.


Karen Kalzer, partner, Helsell Fetterman LLP

Melanie Tyree, risk control specialist, Catholic Mutual

12:02:49 p.m.

Melanie Tyree
“We’re going to cover a brief review of recent Supreme Court decisions on religion in the workplace, a summary of the issues in Masterpiece Cakeshop, identify questions raised regarding workplace claims, consider best practices for dealing with potential liabilities, and look at what may be ahead [in 2019].”

12:04:21 p.m.

Karen Kalzer
“Cases like Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission will impact our clients in two main ways: public accommodations—what does my client have to offer the public?—and what rights do employees have, and which will be primary?”

12:05:35 p.m.

Karen Kalzer
“Newman v. Piggle Park (1968) is an interesting case that speaks to where we are today because the owner in the case said he could not allow different races to eat in the same room because it violated his religious beliefs, which he said included racial segregation. The court rejected that…so you might think that question was settled.”

12:10:16 p.m.

Karen Kalzer
“In Masterpiece, Owner Jack Phillips tells a gay couple that he will sell them brownies or a cake from the shop, but he’s not going to design a cake or create a message to celebrate their marriage because it would force him to act in violation of his own religious beliefs that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

12:17:51 p.m.

Karen Kalzer
“I think there is some comfort to the same-sex and civil rights communities that the Supreme Court is recognizing that you can’t just say, ‘I won’t sell to you because of my religious belief,’ which is in keeping with our Piggle Park decision from 1968.”

12:19:03 p.m.

Melanie Tyree
“The church and its clergy and ministers can make employment decisions based on beliefs, but it’s less clear when you start to look at employees who have no liturgical or secular duties. To protect yourself, be sure you understand who can be classified as a minister. There’s no Minister of Janitorial Services.”

12:23:56 p.m.

Karen Kalzer
“There are a lot of opinions out there that say all Masterpiece accomplished was warning people to use better language when they consider religious accommodation requests. But I think there is language in there for both sides to use about the value and importance of their particular principles.”

12:25:20 p.m.

Karen Kalzer
“Expect to see further examination of these lines in upcoming rulings. There are several cases on petition for the next SCOTUS term, including Harris v. EEOC and Kennedy v. Bremerton SD. Lots of exciting jurisprudence coming up in the next year.”


About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content at the CLM, and serves as executive editor of CLM magazine, the flagship publication of the CLM.  eric.gilkey@theclm.org

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