Saturday, September 24, 2016

Interlocutory Appeal Unavailable In Ministerial Exception Case

In Trinity Christian School v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities, 2016 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2256 (CT Super. Ct., Aug. 22, 2016), a Connecticut trial court dismissed an interlocutory appeal from a decision of the state Commission on Human Rights.  In the case, a Commission referee refused to dismiss a pregnancy discrimination claim brought by an employee against Trinity Christian School.  The school appealed claiming that it is immune from liability under Connecticut's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The court held however that any defense the school has is under the ministerial exception doctrine, which is an affirmative defense to liability.  Therefore an interlocutory appeal is not available. The court rejected the school's argument that merely requiring it to defend the case with an affirmative defense would impose a burden on religious belief.