A split Fourth Circuit panel issued a ruling today that applies the statutory religious organization exemption in Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1(a), to insulate a Catholic nursing home from claims religious harassment, retaliatory discharge, and discriminatory discharge on the basis of religion. Judge Shedd wrote the opinion for the majority in Kennedy v. St. Joseph’s Ministries, Inc. Judge Wynn joined the opinion. Judge King wrote a dissenting opinion.
The panel opinion looks like a straightforward application of relatively clear statutory language. Apart from its importance as an interpretation of the religious organization exemption, the panel opinion may be of interest to proceduralists for the debate between the panel majority and the dissent over the propriety of deciding this issue on interlocutory appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(b).