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Teachers file religious discrimination lawsuit against school

Two California teachers have filed a lawsuit claiming that they were wrongfully discharged from their employment at a private Christian school in 2012. According to the lawsuit, the school decided not to retain them after they refused to show school officials proof of their faith.

The associated church had attempted to stop the teacher's lawsuit by filing their own in federal court. They argued in their suit that the two women violated the rights of the church and the school to free exercise of religion. The pastor stated that the teachers chose to leave their jobs when they refused to sign a contract to prove their faith. He also stated that, under the First Amendment, the school believes that it is its right to hire Christian teachers as it is a Christian school.

In May, the federal court dismissed the church's lawsuit. According to the judge, the suit acted as a defense to the teachers' lawsuit, which at the time had not been filed. The judge also ordered the church and school to pay the teachers' legal fees. The school has plans to appeal the ruling at a later date. The discrimination lawsuit was filed by the teachers the next day.

Under California labor laws, employers cannot terminate an individual's employment due to discrimination against age, sex, religion, race, sexual orientation or for reporting workplace discrimination. Employers also cannot terminate an individual's employment as a method of retaliation. If an employee is fired for one of these reasons, they may be entitled to compensation for lost wages and for damages. An experienced attorney may be able to help their client seek compensation if it can be proved that the client lost their job due to discrimination or if the employer violated the client's rights during the termination process.

Source: Thousand Oaks Acorn, "Teachers sue school in state court ", Anna Bitong , June 20, 2013

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