The U.S. Constitution’s protections for free exercise of religion and freedoms of speech and assembly, and its prohibition on religious establishment, must be enforced by religious institutions and other persons interested in religious rights if they are to continue to have vigor. The same goes for civil rights of both constitutional and statutory origin. Yet houses of worship and persons of faith may also find themselves defending claims that their religiously-motivated practices offend the civil rights of others. Even with the additional protections established in federal and state legislation, such as RFRA and RLUIPA, awareness and vigilance are important for religious institutions and practitioners.
Our attorneys have represented clients in the following representative matters:
- Won a landmark case against the City of New York on behalf of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, establishing its constitutional right to minister to the homeless on its steps. Upheld on appeal by U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
- Represented a religious woman in an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proceeding against her former employer, which terminated her for covering her head at work in accordance with religious practice. Obtained a settlement that included reinstatement and back pay in full for all time lost from work.
- Obtained religious asylum on behalf of individuals who feared persecution in foreign countries on account of their religious beliefs, and defended asylum applicants on appeal from administrative orders which erroneously denied their applications.
- Obtained dismissal of congregant’s lawsuit against pastor, by persuading judge that Constitution required Court to abstain from deciding claim that pastoral rebuke violated congregant’s rights.