Just what is a Sincere Religious Belief? The fifth Circuit Weighs in at in at In Around the Religious Discrimination Claim

Inside a 2-to-1 decision compiled by Judge Edward Prado, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lately chimed in with an employee’s declare that her employer unsuccessful to support a spiritual observance, that “she believed strongly that they ‘needed’ to become at church . . . like a religious matter.” A legal court in Davis v. Fort Bend County overturned summary judgment in which the district court had discovered that the employee’s absence on the Sunday to go to a cutting edge ceremony on her church wasn’t a spiritual practice. Because the district court found and Fort Bend County contended prior to the Fifth Circuit:

being an avid and active member of church does not elevate every activity associated with that church into a legally protectable religious practice.

Rather, most opinion centered on the judiciary’s historic desire not to delve too deeply into a person’s professed religious belief:

This court has cautioned that judicial inquiry into the sincerity of a person’s religious belief “must be handled with a light touch, or judicial shyness.” . . “[E]xamin[ing] religious convictions any more deeply would stray into the realm of religious inquiry, an area into which we are forbidden to tread.” . . . Indeed, “the sincerity of a plaintiff’s engagement in a particular religious practice is rarely challenged,” and “claims of sincere religious belief in a particular practice have been accepted on little more than the plaintiff’s credible assertions.”

Judge Jerry Smith, politely, but vigorously disagreed with the court’s limited view:

In its well-written opinion, the majority errs in holding that our inquiry is limited to the sincerity of an employee’s alleged religious belief; we must also consider whether that belief is “religious” in nature or merely a personal preference or a secular social or economic philosophy.

Companies shouldn’t be surprised if the situation is reheard en banc or possibly reaches the final Court from the U . s . States. Possibly, a minimum of within the Fifth Circuit, the issue of the items qualifies like a religion will quickly (whether it hasn’t already) be clarified by Davis.