South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Police Officer Fired for Refusing Duty That Conflicted with His Religion Had No Constitutional Claim
Description Appeals court held that a state police officer, who was fired for refusing to report to duty to serve at a state-run gambling casino, could not claim violation of his constitutional right to religious freedom. The officer failed to take reasonable steps to avoid such duty, which did not impose a significant cost on him.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words Religious Freedom; Employment
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Enders was an Indiana State Trooper. After the state legalized riverboat casinos, troopers were assigned to work as gaming agents on the casinos. Troopers were selected for duty by lottery and could request a transfer or solicit a volunteer to serve in their place, which usually happened, as most troopers did not mind the duty. When Enders was selected to be a gaming agent, he refused because of his religious beliefs. He did not apply for a transfer or request a volunteer to replace him. He refused to report for duty and was fired. He sued for discrimination on the basis of religion under Title VII, but the federal court rejected his claim. He then sued in state court contending his constitutional right to religious freedom was impaired by his work assignment. The trial court rejected that claim. Enders appealed.

Affirmed. Enders termination for his refusal to serve as a gaming agent did not materially burden his right of religious freedom. The material-burden analysis of a restriction looks to the magnitude of the impairment imposed. Enders failed to request a transfer or a promotion, or to solicit a volunteer to serve in his stead, which were minor impairments. Churches, and by implication the religious freedoms enjoyed by worshipers, are subject to reasonable regulations by the state to the extent as might be required to promote the public health, safety or general welfare.

Citation Enders v. Indiana State Police, 794 N.E.2d 1089 (Ct. App., Ind., 2003)

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