Amos v. Corporation of Presiding Bishop

Decision Date11 January 1984
Docket NumberCiv. No. C-83-0492W.
Citation594 F. Supp. 791
PartiesChristine J. AMOS, Judy Bawden, Deniece Kanon, April Joyce Riding, and Arthur Frank Mayson on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. The CORPORATION OF the PRESIDING BISHOP OF the CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS and the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Utah

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Elizabeth T. Dunning, David B. Watkiss, Molly B. Kenny, John E. Harvey, Salt Lake City, Utah, for plaintiffs.

Dan S. Bushnell, M. Karlynn Hinman, David P. Farnsworth, Salt Lake City, Utah, for defendants.

Paul E. Reimann, Salt Lake City, Utah, amicus curiae.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

WINDER, District Judge.

The defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment was argued orally on October 12, 1983. The plaintiffs were represented by Elizabeth T. Dunning, David B. Watkiss and Molly B. Kenny. Paul E. Reimann appeared as amicus curiae. The defendants were represented by Dan S. Bushnell and M. Karlynn Hinman. Prior to the hearing, the court had carefully read all memoranda of counsel, including the amicus curiae brief and supplemental brief filed by Mr. Reimann. After the hearing, the court took the matter under advisement and has since reviewed the memoranda and attachments thereto and has read all relevant authorities. Based on those materials and oral argument, the court renders the following decision and order.1

I. Background

The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("the C.P.B.") and the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("the C.O.P.") are wholly owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("the Mormon Church"). Both the C.P.B. and the C.O.P. are corporation soles organized pursuant to the laws of Utah, Utah Code Ann. §§ 16-7-1 to -11 (1973).2 The C.O.P. operates a clothing mill known as Beehive Clothing Mills ("Beehive") and a gymnasium known as the Deseret Gymnasium ("Deseret"). The C.P.B. has some administrative input in Beehive and Deseret. Beehive manufactures and distributes garments and temple clothing. Deseret is a public gymnasium that contains the normal facilities found in a gymnasium.

Christine J. Amos ("Amos") was employed at Beehive from 1976 to August 25, 1982 in its personnel department. Her responsibilities included the typing and processing of insurance forms and employment applications. Affidavit of Christine Amos, Memorandum In Opposition To Defendants' Motions To Dismiss or For Summary Judgment, C-83-0492W (Aug. 24, 1983) ("Opposing Memorandum"), Attachment 1, at paragraph 4. Judy L. Bawden ("Bawden") worked as a seamstress at Beehive from 1971 to April 28, 1982. Deniece Kanon ("Kanon") was employed as a seamstress at Beehive from 1978 to May 14, 1982. April Joyce Riding ("Riding") worked as a seamstress at Beehive from 1974 to May 28, 1982. As seamstresses, all three women performed various steps in the manufacturing of garments and temple clothing before the garments were marked with certain religiously significant symbols. Affidavit of Judy Bawden, Opposing Memorandum, Attachment 2, at paragraphs 2-3; Affidavit of Deniece Kanon, Opposing Memorandum, Attachment 3, at paragraph 4; Affidavit of April Joyce Riding, Opposing Memorandum, Attachment 4, at paragraph 2. Arthur Frank Mayson ("Mayson") was employed as a building engineer at Deseret. Affidavit of Arthur Frank Mayson, Opposing Memorandum, Attachment 5, at paragraph 2. As building engineer, Mayson was responsible for maintaining the physical facility at Deseret, the equipment in the facility and the outside grounds. Id., at paragraph 3. All five individuals were fired from their jobs solely because each of them was unable or refused to satisfy the Mormon Church worthiness requirements for a temple recommend.

Amos, Bawden, Kannon, Riding and Mayson ("the plaintiffs") filed suit against the C.P.B. and the C.O.P. ("the defendants"), purporting to represent a class of employees, present and future, allegedly similarly situated. Their complaint against the defendants rests on the following grounds: (1) the defendants discriminated against the plaintiffs on religious grounds in violation of federal and state antidiscrimination laws, and the federal and state exemption from antidiscrimination laws, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1 and Utah Code Ann. § 34-35-2(5), respectively, as applied to employees performing non-religious jobs, violates the establishment clause of the first amendment and the due process and equal protection guarantees of the fifth amendment; (2) the plaintiffs' discharges amounted to wrongful discharges under Utah law for which they are entitled to damages and (3) the defendants wrongfully and intentionally inflicted extreme mental and emotional injury and distress on the plaintiffs by requiring them to be interviewed by clergymen concerning their eligibility for temple recommends. See Complaint, C-83-0492W, at 14 (Apr. 4, 1982) ("the Complaint"); Opposing Memorandum.

The defendants have moved to dismiss this action or, in the alternative, for summary judgment in their favor. The defendants base their motion on the following arguments: (1) the plaintiffs fail to state a claim under the exemption statutes and under the case law in this circuit; (2) this court should not rewrite the exemption statutes to meet the plaintiffs' definition of religious; (3) the exemption statutes are constitutional; (4) the wrongful discharge claim must be dismissed because there is no such claim under Utah law; and (5) the plaintiffs' claim based on the intentional infliction of emotional distress must be dismissed because the allegations do not set forth a cause of action for such a tort. See Memorandum In Support of Defendants' Motion To Dismiss This Action or, in the Alternative, for Summary Judgment, C-83-0492W (June 15, 1983) ("Supporting Memorandum"); Defendants' Reply Brief In Support of Their Motion To Dismiss or For Summary Judgment, C-83-0492W (Sep. 29, 1983) ("Supporting Brief").

II. The Law

In their first claim for relief, the plaintiffs assert that the defendants violated Section 703 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a) and Utah Code Ann. § 34-35-6 (Supp.1983), by requiring employees to satisfy the Mormon Church worthiness requirements for a temple recommend and that the application of the exemption for religious entities contained in section 702 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-1 ("section 702") and in Utah Code Ann. § 34-35-2(5) (Supp.1983) to the defendants to shield them from liability for discriminating against employees performing secular, non-religious jobs on the basis of religion would violate the establishment clause of the first amendment and the due process and equal protection guarantees of the fifth amendment of the United States Constitution. Complaint, at 12-13. They ask this court to permanently enjoin the defendants from applying the Mormon Church worthiness requirement to plaintiffs and other members of the same class of employees. In their second claim for relief, plaintiffs claim that the application of religious qualifications to them and other members of the same class of employees, and terminating plaintiffs' employment violate section 2000e-2(a) and Utah Code Ann. § 34-35-6 (Supp.1983). The plaintiffs seek backpay and reinstatement, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, for those alleged violations.

The defendants have moved to dismiss those claims on the ground that the exemptions for religious entities under federal and state law apply to them and shield them from liability for applying religious qualifications and for terminating plaintiffs for failure to meet those qualifications. The defendants further argue that those exemptions are constitutional. They do not contest that plaintiffs were fired from their employment because they failed to meet the religious test that the defendants imposed.

Section 2000e-2(a) of the United States Code makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer:

(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex or national origin; or
(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a). Section 34-35-6 of the Utah Code similarly prohibits an employer from engaging in a number of discriminatory employment practices. Among the various prohibitions, Utah has made it unlawful:

For an employer to refuse to hire, to discharge, to promote, demote, or to discriminate in matters of compensation against any person otherwise qualified, because of race, color, sex, age, if the individual is 40 years of age or older, religion, ancestry, national origin, or handicap.

Utah Code Ann. § 34-35-6(1)(a) (Supp. 1983). It is undisputed that the plaintiffs were fired from their employment because they failed to meet religious qualifications imposed by the defendants. Thus, under both federal and state law, the defendants engaged in unlawful discriminatory conduct unless they are exempt from those antidiscrimination provisions.

Both the state and federal antidiscrimination laws provide an exemption for religious entities. The federal exemption, section 702, provides:

This subchapter shall not apply to an employer with respect to the employment of aliens outside any state, or to a religious corporation, association,
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