MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – A Madison church will be able to continue requiring its employees to share and live out its religious beliefs.
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled Thursday in favor of Capitoland Christian Center Church after a former employee filed a lawsuit against the church back in 2015 alleging that officials had committed marital status discrimination.
According to a court filing, the complainant, Sandra Sandoval, was hired as a cook for Capitoland Christian Center Church’s daycare program in 2014.
When she started, Sandoval, like all other Capitoland Christian Center Church employees, reportedly signed a “Statement of Affirmation and Agreement.”
Part of this agreement entailed that all employees refrain from “co-habitation with members of the opposite gender outside of marriage” as a condition of their employment.
Sandoval was found to be in violation of these terms a year later when it was discovered that she was living with her boyfriend. Shortly after, Sandoval reportedly stopped coming to work and returned her employee key card and belongings.
Sandoval alleged that she had stopped coming to work because she believed she had been fired while church officials claimed that she resigned due to the fact she didn’t come to work for several days and then returned her things.
Sandoval later filed a lawsuit against the church alleging that it had committed marital status discrimination.
After further investigation into this claim, the court concluded on Thursday that Capitoland Christian Center Church did not engage in marital-status discrimination when it informed Sandoval that the church’s religious beliefs prohibited her from living with her boyfriend, a condition of employment which she had previously agreed to uphold.
“Every church has a statement of faith, and it is not only reasonable, but expected for a church to require its employees to agree with and follow its religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus. “We’re pleased the Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed and that Capitoland Christian Center Church will be free to continue its great work in the Madison community.”
Furthermore, the court ruled that Sandoval suffered no adverse employment action, upholding Capitoland Christian Center Church’s right to require its employees to abide by its core, religious beliefs.