Religious Institutions

News & Analysis as of

Landmarking designation is alleged to violate RLUIPA

A brewing dispute in Yonkers, NY has led the Islamic Community Center for Mid Westchester (ICCMW) to allege that Yonkers violated ICCMW’s rights under RLUIPA, and the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States...more

Watching SCOTUS – ERISA Church-Plan Exemption Revisited

Seyfarth Synopsis: Currently before the Supreme Court are two petitions regarding the thorny legal question of which organizations can qualify for ERISA’s Church-plan exemption. If the Supreme Court grants certiorari and...more

Nashville Islamic Center Claims Tax Rules Impose Unfair Burden

The Islamic Center of Nashville (ICN) recently filed a federal complaint and request for declaratory judgment against the State of Tennessee, the Metropolitan Trustee of Nashville, and the Tennessee State Board of...more

RLUIPA Case of the Year? Minnesota Municipality Uses RLUIPA’s Safe Harbor Provision to Avoid Liability

In an important decision for municipalities across the country, a federal court in Minnesota has recently ruled that actions taken under RLUIPA’s “safe harbor” provision absolved a local government of possible RLUIPA...more

NLRB Expands Jurisdiction in Church-Operated Schools, Distinguishing Between "Religious" and "Secular" Instruction in Faculty...

In two recent cases, the National Labor Relations Board distinguished between faculty members providing secular instruction and those providing religious instruction, in concluding that only those providing religious...more

Ocean, NJ ordered to allow Yeshiva boarding school

In January of this year, Yeshiva Gedola Na’os Yaakov, Inc. (the “Yeshiva”) filed a 79-page complaint in federal court against the Township of Ocean, New Jersey, and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (the “Township)...more

Prevailing RLUIPA Defendant Denied Attorneys’ Fees

This summer, we reported that Genoa Charter Township prevailed in a lawsuit filed by Livingston Christian Schools (LSC), which claimed that the Township violated RLUIPA’s substantial burden provision, the First Amendment to...more

Georgia County Imposes Moratorium on Religious Uses

Newton County, Georgia has imposed a moratorium on religious uses following the planned construction of a mosque and cemetery. The Al Maad Al Islami Inc., a Doraville mosque, purchased 135 acres at the corner of 162 and...more

Manatt on Health Reform: Weekly Highlights - August 2016 #5

A federal report finds that Marketplace premiums are lower in expansion states; Massachusetts and Pennsylvania launch prescription drug monitoring systems; and Kentucky submits a slightly modified Medicaid expansion waiver to...more

RLUIPA Defense/Rocky Mountain Sign Law Joint Blog Post: Pennsylvania Borough’s Church Directional Signs Did Not Violate the...

Late last month, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled that directional signs to a church, which contained images of a cross and bible, did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The...more

Buddhist Meditation Center Sues Mobile, AL

The Thai Meditation Association of Alabama and several individual plaintiffs (the “Center”) have filed suit against the City of Mobile, Alabama, its  Planning Commission, and City Council (“Mobile”) after the Center was...more

Hundreds Erupt in Elation After Sterling Heights Mosque Denial

In the RLUIPA Round-Up post, we noted that the City of Sterling Heights, Michigan, is facing a federal lawsuit following its denial of the American Islamic Community Center’s (Center) zoning application to build a 20,500...more

Minister or Not? Gay Bias Case Turns on Employee’s Role

Seyfarth Synopsis: A federal judge has allowed a discrimination lawsuit to proceed against the Archdiocese of Chicago. The plaintiff alleges that his engagement to another man resulted in his termination. The church sought...more

What, If Anything, Impedes The SEC’s Whistleblower Rule?

As I suspected, law firms are churning out memoranda on the SEC’s recent enforcement actions involving alleged impediments to whistleblowers. While accurately, summarizing these actions, I’m not sure that some of the authors...more

Religious Institutions Update: August 2016

When was the last time your organization reviewed your insurance policies? Not all policies are equal. Many religious organizations are underinsured. Most should have general liability, property, professional liability,...more


We noted in our previous post that the U.S. Department of Justice, in its latest report, has stated that one of the biggest trends in religious land use disputes since 2010 has been the drastic increase in disputes involving...more

California Federal Court: Is Leasing to a Church Religious Exercise?

The Scinto Foundation (Foundation) supports religious organizations “by having activities which are similar to [religious activities] and/or by giving them money, or donating services ….” The Foundation sued the City of...more

Federal Court Rules Alabama Sex Offender Law is “Land Use Regulation” Under RLUIPA

We previously reported on the case Martin v. Houston (M.D. Alabama 2016), in which the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama considered a pastor’s religious discrimination claims involving the state...more

Massachusetts Church Alleges Solar Panel Denial Violates Religious Freedom

A Massachusetts Superior Court is soon to consider the interplay of three important planning principles – historic preservation, sustainable development, and freedom of religion. A Unitarian Universalist church is suing the...more

Health Update - July 2016

The Vulnerability of Healthcare Information - According to a report the Brookings Institute issued in May 2016, 23% of all data breaches occur in the healthcare industry. Nearly 90% of healthcare organizations had some...more

U.S. Department of Justice Issues RLUIPA Report

The Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new report on its involvement in RLUIPA cases.  The report, “Update on the Justice Department’s Enforcement of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act: 2010-2016,”...more

Department of Justice Sues Bensalem Township, PA Over Mosque Denial

On July 21, the United States Department of Justice sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania, in federal court alleging violations of each of RLUIPA’s provisions following the Township’s 2014 denial of a variance application...more

Sikh Temple files suit after Oyster Bay, NY ordered it to stop work and then required SEQRA review

Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center, Inc. (the “Temple”), on June 29, 2016 in the Eastern District of New York, sued the Town of Oyster Bay, New York, the Town Board, and several Town Officials (together, the “Defendants”) after...more

Michigan Township Prevails on Federal Religious Discrimination Claims

A federal court in Michigan has ruled that Genoa Charter Township did not violate federal law in denying a church’s application for a special use permit to operate a religious school. Livingston Christian Schools (LSC)...more

Safeguard Your Federal Funding – Transgender Students And Title IX Compliance

On May 13, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice published a guidance document for elementary and secondary schools that reaffirmed its 2015 opinion letter on how Title IX’s regulations apply...more

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