Geneva College settles discrimination lawsuit
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Geneva College and the state and federal governments have reached an agreement that will end a lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court.
The Beaver Falls school filed the civil complaint in December against both the Pennsylvania and U.S. departments of labor, claiming it was being discriminated against because the Christian college was not allowed to post job advertisements on the state CareerLink Web site.
The site, which allows employers to list jobs open to the public, is funded by millions of dollars in federal money, and must comply with the federal nondiscrimination clause.
However, as part of the settlement, the federal government has said that because Geneva does not receive any Workforce Investment Act funding, it is not subject to the nondiscrimination clause.
"We're happy Geneva's able to take advantage of these services, and they will be on equal footing with other organizations to use the Web site," said Timothy J. Tracey, an attorney with the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law & Religious Freedom, one of the groups that filed the lawsuit on the college's behalf.
Geneva describes itself as a "Christian college rooted in the evangelical and reformed traditions." It was originally denied permission to post openings on the CareerLink Web site when applicants were limited to a single religion.
"I think [the government is] putting a gloss on it that makes them look more faith-based friendly," Mr. Tracey said.
But John Witte Jr., the director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, said the settlement is appropriate because the Web site is not so much for the school as it is for potential employees.
"Even though [the government] paid for that forum, it can't discriminate against what's said on this Web site," he said.
It would be a form of view-point discrimination for the state to preclude Geneva from getting the same services available to other organizations, he said.
When Geneva filed the lawsuit, it argued that the school fell under an exemption for religious organizations that allows them to hire and fire based on religion.
First Published April 30, 2007 10:28 pm