A federal court has exempted a wellness center run by Christians known as Braidwood Wellness from a policy that would have discriminated against LGBTQIA+ members. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is reportedly responsible for creating this regulation which aims to stop discrimination on a person's race, color, religion, and gender identity.
Exemption of the Law on Christian-Owned Business
According to a report from Yahoo Sports, Circuit Judge Jerry Smith ruled that in the absence of an exception, Braidwood Wellness would be forced to "comply wholeheartedly" with regulations considered "sinful." An order handed down by U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor in Fort Worth, Texas, was validated by this decision. However, on Tuesday, Jun 20, the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which has its headquarters in New Orleans, handed down a ruling on Braidwood Management, which runs an alternative wellness center in Texas. Circuit Judges Edith Clement, Cory Wilson, and Jerry Smith, all of whom had been appointed to their respective positions by Republican presidents, comprised the panel that heard the case and held that the United States EEOC is unable to take legal action against Braidwood over its policy of dismissing employees who participate in LGBTQIA+ or gender non-conforming conduct.
The court reportedly did reverse O'Connor's finding, which had previously stated that the Christian-owned wellness center might file the complaint as a group action on behalf of other religious businesses. Thus, the exemption is only applicable to Braidwood Wellness at this time. As per NBC News, Braidwood Wellness contended that the organization's policies, such as its opposition to homosexuality and its adherence to traditional gender roles, were in line with Christian views and demonstrated that it followed such values. In addition, after EEOC modified its regulatory guidance, 2021 which states that hostility towards gay and transgender employees is an act of illegal sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to take into account the United States Supreme Court's opinion in Bostock v. Clayton County, the Christian-owned wellness center filed a lawsuit against the EEOC.
Accordingly, Braidwood Wellness claimed that it operated under Christian views, which included a stance against homosexuality and the promotion of traditional gender roles. They had attempted to get a court order protecting their company from EEOC enforcement under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a federal law passed in 1993 restricting government agencies' authority to interfere with any individual's religious freedom. On the other hand, Braidwood further opposes the administration of President Joe Biden in a separate lawsuit against the mandate under the Affordable Care Act that health insurance plans, including those backed by employers, offer preventive care services, including HIV-preventing medications. According to Braidwood, this legal obligation also contradicts the company's principles. O'Connor, who is also ruling over that case, found in favor of the firm; however, the ruling is currently partially on hold for further consideration.
The regulations implemented by U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibit employers and other covered organizations who are not permitted from employing impartial hiring practices and policies which have an overtly adverse impact on applicants or staff members of a specific racial or ethnic group, religion, which includes gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, ethnic background, or on a person with a disability or class of individuals with disabilities when the rules or procedures are not job-related or necessary. Moreover, retaliation against someone who has reported discrimination, charged discrimination, or taken part in an employment discrimination investigation or litigation is reportedly forbidden.