Wednesday, October 18, 2017

California Governor Vetoes Expanded Labor Protections For Employees of Religious Organizations

On Oct. 15, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB-569 (full text of bill) that would have expanded the employees who are protected against dismissal for their reproductive health choices.  The bill provides in part:
The Legislature finds that employees of religiously affiliated institutions are entitled to the same protections as any other employee under the California Labor Code, unless the employee is the functional equivalent of minister, and therefore subject to a “ministerial exception” as developed in First Amendment case law.
California's current Fair Employment and Housing Act does not cover any employees of non-profit religious associations or corporations (Sec. 12940(j)(4)).  Governor Brown's veto message said:
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act has long banned such adverse actions, except for religious institutions. I believe these types of claims should remain within the jurisdiction of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
In a press release on the governor's veto, ADF described the vetoed bill as one that "would have prohibited churches, religious colleges, religious non-profit organizations, and pro-life pregnancy care centers from having faith-based codes of conduct with regard to abortion and sexual behavior."