In a major win for marriage equality, partner Eve Hill and attorneys Anthony May and Lauren DiMartino, along with co-counsel, have secured a victory in Maryland federal court on behalf of a married gay employee, “John Doe,” against his employer, Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Mr. Doe, who challenged the CRS’s withdrawal of health insurance benefits for his husband in a 2020 lawsuit, alleges he began working for CRS after the organization promised its employee benefits covered all an employee’s dependents, including same-sex spouses. CRS later reneged on that promise and canceled his husband’s insurance coverage because he and his husband are both men.
In a 23-page decision, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled in Mr. Doe’s favor under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Maryland Equal Pay Act, stating that religious organizations are not excused from anti-discrimination statutes. CRS argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) precluded enforcement of Title VII on CRS. However, the court held that RFRA doesn’t apply to private parties like Doe and CRS. As the Court stated: “Our Constitution’s solicitousness of religious exercise is not carte blanche for any religious institution wishing to place itself beyond the reach of any neutral and generally applicable law.”
“Religious entities are not exempt from antidiscrimination laws,” said Eve Hill.” They can prefer to hire people of their religion and they can impose their beliefs on religious jobs, but having hired LGBTQ+ people in non-religious jobs, they can’t then deny those employees the salary and benefits offered to other employees.”
When members of the LGBTQ+ community experience discrimination, Brown, Goldstein & Levy attorneys draw on decades of experience in civil rights cases to provide protection. We represent LGBTQ+ clients in all areas of the law including employment, family, insurance coverage, and criminal defense. We are also proud to partner with other organizations to advocate for LGBTQ+ equality in the law and to shape policy, like FreeState Justice.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EVE HILL
In February 2017, Eve Hill, one of the nation’s leading disability rights attorneys, joined Brown Goldstein & Levy, where she continues to pursue her devotion to civil rights. Her wide-ranging experience complements the firm’s dedication to high-impact disability rights cases and its advocacy on behalf of individuals with disabilities and their families. Eve is co-leader of Inclusivity, BGL’s Strategic Consulting Group.
LEARN MORE ABOUT ANTHONY MAY
Anthony J. May has represented clients in a variety of complex litigation matters including assisting employees with disabilities in obtaining accessible technology and accommodations in the workplace, representing individuals who have been wrongfully convicted, commercial litigation disputes, and fighting workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.
LEARN MORE ABOUT LAUREN DIMARTINO
Lauren DiMartino joined Brown Goldstein & Levy to represent clients across various areas of civil rights law, including fair housing, education and disability rights, police misconduct, and workplace discrimination. Her practice also includes appeals, commercial litigation, and criminal defense.
PLEASE FIND NEWS COVERAGE BELOW
Federal Judge Sides with Gay Employee Who Sued Catholic Relief Services | Metro Weekly (August 16, 2022)
Judge rules Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services violated law in withdrawing insurance from gay employee’s spouse | The Baltimore Sun (August 12, 2022)
Judge rules Catholic nonprofit must cover health insurance for same-sex spouses | WYPR (August 10, 2022)
Judge: Catholic Relief Services liable for gender bias, denial of same-sex benefits | The Daily Record (August 9, 2022)
Gay Catholic Relief Services employee wins sex bias claims | Bloomberg Law (August 4, 2022)
Gay Catholic charity worker gets partial win in sex bias suit | Law360 (August 4, 2022)
Lawsuit Says Catholic Relief Services Discriminates Against Gay Employee | WYPR (June 16, 2020)