In a puzzling split decision, the Minnesota State Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 that religious schools were exempt from claims of discrimination brought by employees. The ruling states that the state rights barring discrimination in the work place do not protect employees whose jobs were linked to the mission of the religious institution, which includes teachers at religious schools. The justices stated that since their jobs are linked to the mission of the institution, they are free to fire their employees at will to further their mission.
This ruling is startling, given the trend of recent anti-employee laws being passed. This law essentially undermines the rights of employees working for religious institutions, even though they are often lay-people and not part of the clergy. While religious freedom is one of the most important freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution, it seems hardly appropriate to use religion as shield for discrimination based on gender, race, age or any other protected group. The Court of Minnesota should be chastised for condoning discrimination, and working to erode to rights of workers in the state.