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GEL Victory in Maryland District Court: Religious Organizations Cannot Deny Health Coverage to Same-Sex Spouses

by | Aug 18, 2022 | Case Results

On August 3, 2022, Judge Catherine Blake granted GEL Client’s, John Doe, Motion for Summary Judgement finding his employer, Catholic Relief Services (“CRS”), discriminated against him based on sex, specifically due to his sexual orientation. In 2016, CRS terminated Doe’s husband’s health insurance because, it explained, it did not provide dependent benefits for same-sex spouses in accordance with Catholic values. Doe sued CRS, alleging several violations of law, including claims of sex discrimination under Title VII, the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and the Maryland Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (MEPWA).

In her decision, Judge Blake rejected CRS’s argument that it was exempt from Title VII because it is a religious organization. Judge Blake also rejected CRS’s argument that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act precluded enforcement of Title VII. Judge Blake wrote, “[o]ur Constitution’s solicitousness of religious exercise is not carte blanche for any religious institution wishing to place itself beyond the reach of any neutral and generally applicable law.” Judge Blake also noted that the MEPWA does not provide a religious exemption.

The firm worked with attorneys from Brown, Goldstein & Levy to represent Mr. Doe successfully throughout the EEOC’s administrative process and in Maryland District Court. Ms. Leary and Mr. Hill are thankful to have the opportunity to support Mr. Doe and his husband in asserting their fundamental rights and in creating a more equitable workplace.