Mr. Billard taught at Charlotte Catholic High School for more than a decade—first as an English and drama teacher, and then as a substitute. Although he was “beloved in the school,” Mr. Billard was terminated after the school learned that he had married another man in 2014. Mr. Billard brought a lawsuit challenging his termination under Title VII, which prohibits discrimination against workers on the basis of sex, including sexual orientation.
In defending against the lawsuit, the school has argued that Mr. Billard’s claims are barred by (1) Title VII’s religious exemption, which allows religious institutions to discriminate in favor of a preferred religion but does not provide a blanket exemption for any sort of discrimination motivated by religion; (2) a host of doctrines under the First Amendment, including one that gives certain autonomy rights to churches; and (3) the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina rejected these arguments and granted summary judgment in favor of Mr. Billard, holding that the school was liable under Title VII. The school appealed that decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
On November 30, 2022, Americans United filed an amicus brief, joined by Muslim Advocates and National Council of Jewish Women, in support of Mr. Billard. We argued that neither the church-autonomy doctrine nor the Religious Freedom Restoration Act shield the school from liability in this case.