‘Faith-Based’ Job Bias Upheld In New York

A federal judge in New York has ruled that the Salvation Army can discriminate in hiring in federally funded social service programs it runs.

On Oct. 4, U.S. District Judge Sidney Stein dismissed a portion of a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) that accused the Salvation Army of improperly using government grants to discriminate in employment on the basis of religion. The NYCLU represented former Salvation Army employees who alleged that they were forced from the organization for disagreeing with its religious policies.

The NYCLU noted in a press statement, however, that the judge did not dismiss the group’s charge that government agencies had unconstitutionally used public money to advance the Salvation Army’s religious work.

The NYCLU called the ruling in Lown v. Salvation Army a “mixed” one.

“Unfortunately,” NYCLU’s statement read, “the Court’s decision offers no relief for the Salvation Army’s social service employees who are the victims of religious discrimination in programs funded almost entirely by the government. The court has, wrongly, we believe, exempted the Salvation Army’s government-funded programs from civil rights laws that generally prohibit discrimination against employees based on religion or creed.”

The NYCLU said it was “considering future options in proceeding with all aspects of its lawsuit.”