The Catholic University of America



Religious Discrimination


Title VII protects individuals from having to choose either violating a fundamental precept of his or her religion or losing an employment opportunity.


Definition: The definition of "religion" is not restricted to the orthodox denominations. The coverage under religion includes all aspects of religious observances and practices as well as belief, or lack of belief, such as atheism. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines define religious practices to include "moral or ethical beliefs as to what is right and wrong which are sincerely held with the strength of traditional religious views." The coverage is not limited to worship, but also includes other obligations of church members, such as attendance at church-related business meetings by a minister.


Reasonable Accommodation: An organization has the obligation to provide reasonable accommodations for the religious practices of an employee or prospective employee unless to do so would create an undue hardship. An organization also has to reasonably modify a uniformly applied rule or policy to accommodate the religious needs of employees or applicants.


Preference for Catholics: The Catholic University of America reserves the right to grant a preference in hiring to Catholics where it has been approved by the appropriate authorities, is related to the CUA mission, and is permitted as a matter of law. Other than positions where there is such a preference, potential employees do not need to be Catholic to work at CUA. All employees, regardless of their faith commitment, should feel comfortable supporting the missions and goals of the university.


Selected Case Law: The Catholic University of America's unique role in American higher education has led to its involvement in several important court decisions involving religious issues.

EEOC and Elizabeth McDonough v. The Catholic University of America, 83 F.3d 455 (D.C. Cir. 1996). Addresses the ministerial exception to Title VII.


Granfield v. The Catholic University of America, 530 F.2d 1035 (D.C. Cir.). Upheld CUA's right to apply a clerical discount to salaries.


Curran v. The Catholic University of America, Sup. Ct. D.C., C.A. No. 1562-87 (1989). Academic freedom versus free exercise of religious beliefs. In Curran, the court held that the university did not breach its agreement with a tenured professor by withdrawing his right to teach Catholic theology.

cases linked by mlo 10-12-11

Source: EEOC religious discrimination guidelines and 29 C.F.R. § 1605.1 et seq.