Age Discrimination Claim Made By Former Catholic School Employee Struck Down — Judges Cite Religious Freedom as Taking Precedence over Fair Employment Laws

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, July 21 that a claim brought by a former Catholic school employee (Wendy Ostlund) for age discrimination was not valid due to the fact that she had worked at a religious institution.

The court overturned the rulings of two lower courts by a razor sharp verdict of 4 to 3. The lower courts sided with Ostlund, who claimed that she had been terminated illegally during a 2002 downsizing.

The claimant’s attorney expressed dismay at the ruling, claiming that the Supreme Court ignored a wealth of precedence that seemed to support the view that religious institutions must abide by fair employment practices for positions that are not ministerial and that are largely secular in nature. A Justice speaking for the Supreme Court’s majority disagreed, pointing to Wisconsin’s Free Exercise and Freedom of Conscious clauses; he suggested that these laws allow certain religious organizations exemption from some employment discrimination claims.

This case goes to show that, even when age discrimination or religious discrimination claims may seem supported by precedence, there is no predicting precisely how an appellate court may rule. That’s why it is so important for claimants to retain top tier employment discrimination attorneys before moving forward with legal action. The good news is that, if you’ve been the victim of age, gender, or religious discrimination at your job, the attorneys of Joseph & Kirschenbaum may be able to help. Book a confidential consultation with us today by phoning (212) 688-5640, or learn more about the firm’s capabilities, successes, and philosophy at www.jhllp.com.