On the other side, the teachers claim protection under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, which prohibits religious discrimination. There are some exemptions to the Act — for nonprofit religious groups, for example — but the exemptions don’t include for-profit groups, even if the groups are religious in nature.
“The question is, ultimately, do the nondiscrimination rights of the teachers under state law trump the religious rights of the school under federal law?” Richard Kahdeman, a lawyer representing the church and school, told The Star.
“Religious schools have to be allowed to make faith-based decisions,” added Alan Reinach, a constitutional lawyer affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “That’s basic to religious freedom.”
Lawyers for the teachers call the lawsuit an attempt to “avoid the consequences” of discrimination. They point to a multitude of federal and state cases in which California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act has been upheld.
“For-profit businesses, if you will, have to play by nondiscrimination rules,” Joe Conn, a spokesperson for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, told the Star.