CATHOLIC HOSPITALS: Exempt From Civil Rights Laws
"A nonprofit hospital run by a religious group does not need to organize as a religious corporation to be protected from employment discrimination suits under state law," the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday. The ruling, written by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, "pointed out the hospital was organized as a nonprofit corporation by the church, that it followed the tenets of the church and of the Sisters of Mercy of Auburn and that its bylaws require that all activities at the hospital be 'carried on subject to the moral and ethical principles of the Roman Catholic Church'" (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/10). The Sacramento Bee reports that the case centered on an African-American woman who was suing her employer, Mercy Healthcare Sacramento, for race discrimination. Lawyers for Mercy argued successfully that the California Fair Employment and Housing Act does not apply to a religious, nonprofit hospital. Lawyers for the woman contended that "because Mercy is a large employer, admits people of all denominations and that the job of a nurse is secular in nature, the hospital should be subject to the same laws as other employers." The court concluded, however, that Mercy is a religious organization, and as such, exempt from civil rights laws. The Bee notes that yesterday's ruling, which reversed an appellate ruling, did not address whether the woman was discriminated against or not (Breton, 11/10). Click here for previous coverage of religious convictions playing into health care.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.