Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc. case brief

Estate of Thornton v. Caldor, Inc. case brief summary (1985)

J. Burger: CT law forbids Ers from forcing their Ees to work on their Sabbath and Thornton is a Sunday Sabbath observer. When he is moved to a lower position b/c of his observance, he sues.

Holding: law violates the EC b/c it creates an absolute and unqualified right not to work for religious reasons, and thus favored religion over all other interests.  Fails Lemon.
·         The primary effect of the statute is to advance religion
o   statute confers its benefit on an explicitly religious basis
o   when Er cannot consider any other interests, that establishes state preference for religion
·         There is comprehensive, discriminating and continuing state surveillance, which creates excessive governmental entanglements between church and state. 

  • O’Connor concurring: feels compelled to include that this does not effect duty of reasonable accommodation under Title VII
    • Reasonable, rather than absolute, accommodation
    • Extends that requirement to all religious beliefs, not just observance of Sabbath
Also invokes Endorsement test: an objective observer would see this as a state endorsement of religion to the detriment of those who do not share it.

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