The Application of RFRA to Override Employment Non-Discrimination Clauses Embedded in Federal Social Service Programs

By Carl H. Esbeck
July 03, 2008
The basic federal employment nondiscrimination law is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or religion, and is binding when an employer has fifteen or more employees. However, section 702(a) of the act acknowledges the freedom of religious organizations to take religion into account in their employment decisions. Moreover, the section 702(a) exemption is not forfeited when a faith-based organization accepts government grant funding, nor does the exemption thereby become a religious preference in violation of the Establishment Clause. There is more to federal civil rights compliance than Title VII, however, and strictly speaking the section 702(a) exemption is applicable only to claims brought under Title VII....