Monday, November 17, 2014

Nuns Volunteering For Red Cross Were Not "Employees" Under Title VII

In Marie v. American Red Cross, (6th Cir., Nov. 14, 2014), the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Title VII as well as 1st and 14th Amendment claims by two Catholic nuns who were dismissed from their long-time volunteer positions as disaster relief workers for the American Red Cross and the Ross County (Ohio) Emergency Management Agency.  The court rejected plaintiffs' Title VII religious discrimination claims because "their volunteer relationship does not fairly approximate employment and is not covered by Title VII."

The court also concluded that plaintiffs had not produced evidence to support their 1st Amendment claim that they were terminated in retaliation for expressing their traditional Catholic beliefs and wearing traditional habits, rosaries, and crosses. Nor did they show disparate treatment in violation of their equal protection rights. In addition, the court found that neither the American Red Cross nor its district executive director were engaged in "state action."