Ockletree v. Franciscan Health Sys. (Majority, Dissent and Concurrence/Dissent)Annotate this Case
The certified questions in this case centered on whether, the exemption of nonprofit religious organizations from the definition of "employer" under Washington's Law Against Discrimination (WLAD), violates article I, section 11 or article I, section 12 of the Washington Constitution. Larry Ockletree sued his former employer, Franciscan Health System (PHS), challenging the termination of his employment after he had a stroke. Ockletree, who is African-American, claimed that his termination was the result of illegal discrimination on the basis of race and disability. FHS removed the suit to federal court and moved to dismiss Ockletree's claims. FHS argued that it was exempt from WLAD as a nonprofit religious organization. Ockletree challenged the validity of the religious employer exemption under the state and federal constitutions. The district court certified questions to this court asking whether the religious employer exemption violated Washington's article I, section 11 establishment clause or its article I, section 12 privileges and immunities clause. The Washington Supreme Court answered both questions in the negative.