Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Administrative Law Judge Finds Bakery's Refusal To Furnish Same-Sex Wedding Cake Violates Anti-Discrimination Law

In In re Melissa Klein, (OR BOLI, Jan. 29, 2015), an Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries Administrative Law Judge, in a 52-page opinion, held that Aaron Klein, a co-owner of the bakery "Sweetcakes by Melissa", discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, in violation of the public accommodation provisions of ORS 695A.403.  The case grew out of the refusal on religious grounds to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.  The court held that co-owner Melissa Klein will be jointly and severally liable for any damages awarded. The ALJ rejected free exercise and compelled speech defenses put forward by respondents, concluding that the state's anti-discrimination law is a neutral law of general applicability.

The administrative agency issued a press release announcing the Interim Order, saying:
The Interim Order finds that the undisputed material facts support charges of unlawful discrimination under the Oregon Equality Act. An administrative hearing scheduled for March will focus on damages for the same-sex couple.
The Oregonian reports on the decision. [Thanks to Joel Sogol via Religionlaw for the lead.]