Tuesday, December 19, 2006

College, Seeking To Hire Christians, Challenges Workforce Investment Act

The federal Workforce Investment Act provides for federal financial assistance to state employment and job training agencies to encourage them to create "One-Stop Career Centers". The WIA (Sec. 188(a)(2)) requires that programs funded under its provisions may not discriminate on various grounds, including religion.

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry set up a federally-financed Internet-based job listing service for use by job seekers. An employer can list a position in the system only if the employer agrees to non-discrimination requirements. Geneva College, a Christian university, requires all employees to articulate a commitment to Jesus. However, the Department of Labor & Industry refused to permit the College to include religious criteria in its job postings with the agency. Yesterday, Geneva College, along with the Association of Faith-Based Organizations, filed suit in federal court in Pittsburgh against the U.S. Department of Labor and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry challenging their refusal to permit religious organizations to use otherwise permissible faith-based criteria in their job listings.

The complaint (full text) alleges that the refusal infringes the First Amendment expression and religion rights of religious employers, as well their equal protection rights and their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Plaintiffs are represented by the Christian Legal Society and the Alliance Defense Fund, (ADF Release.) Today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on the case.