Elizabeth Houghton LaGreca, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was featured in Bloomberg Daily Labor Report, in “Religious Objections Over Pronouns Test High Court’s New Stance,” by George Weykamp. (Read the full version – subscription required.)
Following is an excerpt:
A revived legal dispute over a Christian music teacher’s refusal to use students’ preferred names and pronouns will offer an early test of the US Supreme Court’s new standard for religious accommodations in the workplace.
John Kluge sued Brownsburg Community School Corp. after it rescinded a faith-based accommodation that allowed him to refer to all students exclusively by their last names. He lost his discrimination case under decades-old high court precedent that gave employers more leeway in denying religious requests that pose a minimal hardship on operations.
But the justices in June revamped how courts should analyze religious accommodations, making them more difficult for employers to reject. Now Kluge’s case is heading back to an Indiana federal court, which will reasses his claims under the Supreme Court’s unanimous Groff v. Dejoy decision. …
The school district will likely argue that the case meets the Groff standard due to the role schools play in creating a safe and comfortable environment for children, said Elizabeth Houghton LaGreca, an attorney with Epstein, Becker & Green P.C. …
Courts are weighing the issue of preferred pronoun usage and religious accommodations in pending employment cases across the nation. All could be complicated by the Supreme Court’s new precedent.
“We’re in a challenging spot where employers may have made accommodation decisions based on the Hardison standard, and then now, those decisions are going to be assessed potentially under the Groff standard,” Epstein, Becker & Green’s LaGreca said.