Saturday, December 7, 2013

Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc. case brief

Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc. case brief summary
472 U.S. 703 (1985)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Petitioner sought a writ of certiorari from a decision of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, which held that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-303e(b) (1985), which forbade respondent's dismissal of employee who refused to work on his Sabbath, did not have clear secular purpose and created excessive governmental entanglements between church and state.

CASE FACTS
Petitioner's decedent (decedent) worked for respondent, chain of retail stores. At that time, respondent's Connecticut stores were closed on Sundays pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53-300 to 53-303 (1958). Following state legislature's revision of Sunday-closing laws, respondent required employees to work every third or fourth Sunday. The decedent invoked the protection of Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53-303e(b) (1985) (statute), which forbade an employer's dismissal of an employee who refused to work on his Sabbath.

DISCUSSION
  • The court held that the statute, which provided Sabbath observers with an absolute and unqualified right not to work on their Sabbath, violated the Establishment Clause of U.S. Constitutional Amendment I. 
  • The statute imposed on employers and employees an absolute duty to conform their business practices to particular religious practices of the employee by enforcing observance of the Sabbath the employee unilaterally designated. 
  • The state thus commanded that Sabbath religious concerns automatically controlled over all secular interests, which was impermissible.
CONCLUSION
The judgment was affirmed because the statute, which forbade an employer's dismissal of an employee who refused to work on his Sabbath, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

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