Mayson was employed by and subsequently fired by the Deseret Gymnasium (Gymnasium), run by the Mormon Church, because he failed to qualify for a certificate that he is a member of the Church and eligible to attend its temples.
Religious organizations can discriminate based on religion, whereas secular organizations and businesses cannot.
Section 702 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Section 702) exempts religious organizations from Title VII‘s prohibition against discrimination in employment on the basis of religion.
The Deseret Gymnasium (Gymnasium) in Salt Lake City, Utah, is a nonprofit facility, open to the public, run by the Mormon Church. Mayson worked at the Gymnasium as a building engineer, but he was discharged because he failed to qualify for a certificate that he is a member of the Church and eligible to attend its temples. Plaintiff brought suit, arguing that Section 702 violates the Establishment Clause.
Does Section 702 violate the Establishment Clause by allowing religious employers to choose employees for nonreligious jobs based on their religion?
No, Section 702 does not violate the Establishment Clause by allowing religious employers to choose employees for nonreligious jobs based on their religion.
Sensitivity to individual religious freedom dictates that religious discrimination be permitted only with respect to employment in religious activities. It is easier to claim that a religious organization’s activities are religious if they are nonprofit activities.
The government must accommodate religious practices without violating the Establishment Clause. It is well established that the limits of permissible state accommodation to religion are not co-extensive with noninterference mandated by the Free Exercise Clause. At some point, accommodation may devolve into an unlawful fostering of religion, but this is not such a case.
The 3-part Lemon test was met because the exemption had a secular legislative purpose, did not advance or inhibit religion, and helped avoid excessive government entanglement with religion. First, the exemption had a secular legislative purpose because the government does not determine for religious organizations what they count as religious activities. Second, the government neither advanced nor inhibited religion because it allowed for a church to advance its religion but did not directly intervene. Third, there is no excessive government entanglement with religion because religious organizations are allowed to employ whoever they want to.