On Monday, March 23rd, a Ventura County Superior Court judge affirmed the rights of a Christian school in Thousand Oaks, California, to ask that its employees provide a reference from a pastor.
Little Oaks School asked their employees to provide the reference in order to renew their contracts each year. Two preschool teachers refused to provide a pastor’s reference and their contracts were not renewed.
They argued that because the school was not a non-profit entity they had no right to require their employees to obtain a pastor’s reference. The school was owned by Calvary Chapel Thousand Oaks and served as a ministry to the community even though it was not separately organized as a tax exempt entity.
Advocates for Faith & Freedom, with the support of Tyler & Bursch, LLP, represented the school and Calvary Chapel Thousand Oaks. They argued that the school is protected by a ministerial exception backed by decades of case law that prohibits courts from intervening in the employment decisions of religious organizations. Read More
Spreading the Gospel in Public
You may remember the case about the man who was arrested for reading the Bible aloud in front of a DMV. This man was arrested for “preaching to a captive audience.” After realizing there is no such law, the officer issued a citation for interfering with an open business through obstruction and/or intimidation. The District Attorney realized that neither of those claims were valid and, instead, prosecuted our clients for failing to have a permit pursuant to a vague and little-known state regulation.
After successfully defending this man in criminal court, we filed a civil law suit in federal court for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment. The case was brought before the US District Court for the Central District of California where a judge ignored the lack of probable cause to arrest our client and said his First Amendment rights were not violated.
We disagree with her decision and are taking the fight to the next level, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Opening briefs are scheduled to be filed in July.