State high court: Catholic hospital may be sued for discrimination in firing [CC]


Washington’s state supreme court has ruled that religious nonprofits may be sued for job discrimination on the basis of race, disability, or sexual orientation "if an employee’s work was …



The very existence of a Catholic hospital has to do with religion:

And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 25:40


It seems that, at least in part, the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC answers question of who is or isn’t a minister, or is or isn’t involved in religion in a religious related setting.

On the broader issue, the drumbeat of attacks by the secular left on religious involvement in education and healthcare by the Catholic Church and others such as the LCMS continues.



My mother suffered a heart attack, went to St. Joseph’s, was given the last rites, and passed away peacefully there.

What people don’t know is that St. Joseph’s is right in the heart of black neighborhoods and surrounding minority populations. My dad told us we would never move on account of people of color moving into our neighborhood, so my parents stayed after we grew up and some of us moved away.

He should get medical help for his condition. But who did he have insurance with???

We don’t know the facts, but already it is appearing to be politically motivated.


The man was not fired because he violated the religious teachings or practices of the hospital. He was fired because the hospital felt he couldn’t do the job effectively after his disability. He claimed his job mainly involved checking name tags, which he could still do.

Quoting from the AP article:

*In a divided opinion Thursday, the court sided with a 59-year-old security guard at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma who was fired after he suffered a stroke in 2010. Larry Ockletree lost most use of his left arm, and the hospital said he couldn’t do his job anymore.

Four justices wanted to uphold the exemption, saying it was a reasonable way to ensure religious freedom. Four others voted to strike it down, saying it didn’t make sense to give religious organizations a pass when discrimination has nothing to do with religious freedom.

The decision came down to Justice Charles Wiggins. He held that whether the law’s exemption applies in any given case depends on whether an employee’s job is related to religious practices.

“When the exemption is applied to a person whose job qualifications and responsibilities are unrelated to religion, there is no reasonable ground for distinguishing between a religious organization and a purely secular organization,” he wrote.*


Here is the opinion.

Ockletree v. Franciscan Health System

Out of curiosity, does the LCMS take a similarly expansive view to the ELCA regarding who is considered a minister?


Thanks for clarification as the link didn’t share much info.

He would not be treated as such because he’s black and they have so many blacks there. We don’t know really that well the degree of his stroke. Checking name tags…they would have to observe him.

I definitely don’t buy that about the race charge at all, considering the fact that this hospital has been serving the black community for so so many years. I went to grade school nearby there in the 1950’s and the hospital was running before that…in a black area of town.

Seems ruling is more about anti religious court.


I am not sure what the ELCA’s view is. Tabor-Hosanna is an LCMS school, as most Lutheran parochial schools in America are. The ELCA politically is decidedly liberal, and they do not hide it. One of the reasons I left it over a decade ago.



Ah, I see. I was misled by the “Evangelical” in their name.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit