Discrimination Case Against Church Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction
An employee of the Rockledge Christian Center was terminated for engaging in pre-marital sex, which was a violation of her agreement to adhere to a Christian lifestyle both in and out of work. She sued the church in a Florida federal court for discrimination based on her pregnancy and gender in violation of Title VII and Florida law. The court granted our motion to dismiss the case, holding that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case under the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The court found the plaintiff to be a functional minister of the church in her position as an assistant teacher to pre-school children. It reasoned that to apply anti-discrimination laws to the church’s personnel decisions would raise serious constitutional questions in light of the Constitution’s guarantee of the separation of church and state. Although the plaintiff initially filed a notice of appeal, she later voluntarily dismissed the appeal with prejudice.