Can a public school teacher be terminated based on religous beliefs, even though they do not teach or express those beliefs during school hours?

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Can a public school teacher be terminated based on religous beliefs, even though they do not teach or express those beliefs during school hours?

Asked on April 10, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Wyoming

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Federal law specifically makes it illegal to discriminate in employment against someone due to religion. In addition, a public school is a governmental unit, and so the First Amendment's guaranty of freedom of religion would apply to it (the First Amendment, and other amendments in the Bill of Rights, do not apply to private employers, but that's not an issue here). If the teacher did not profess his/her beliefs during school hours or otherwise let them interfere with doing his/her job, then he or she should not have been terminated over them. (If they did prevent him or her from doing the job properly, that would be a different story--then termination might be appropriate, so long as it's in accordance with any collective bargaining or union contacts).

 


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