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Christian Employers Alliance v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Description:  The Christian Employers Alliance is challenging two Biden administration mandates that force religious nonprofit and for-profit employers to pay for or perform gender transition surgeries, procedures, counseling, and treatments in violation of their religious beliefs.


A man walks with a Bible and a briefcase
Monday, May 16, 2022

BISMARCK, N.D. – A federal district court issued an order Monday that temporarily halts enforcement of two Biden administration mandates forcing both non-profit and for-profit religious employers and healthcare providers to pay for and perform surgeries, procedures, counseling, and treatments that seek to alter one’s biological sex even if such actions violate the employers’ or providers’ religious beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys requested the preliminary injunction order in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Christian Employers Alliance. The U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota found that CEA is likely to prevail in its suit and therefore issued the order halting enforcement of the mandates against CEA while the lawsuit proceeds.

“All employers and healthcare providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutional right to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed, who argued before the court on behalf of CEA. “The employers we represent believe that God purposefully created humans as either male or female, and so it would violate their religious beliefs to pay for or perform life-altering medical procedures or surgeries that seek to change one’s biological sex. The court was on firm ground to halt enforcement of these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith.”

The lawsuit argues that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is misinterpreting and improperly enforcing discrimination based on sex in Title VII to force religious employers to pay for and provide health insurance coverage for such surgeries and procedures. Additionally, the lawsuit challenges the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ reinterpretation of “sex” in federal law to include gender identity, thereby forcing religious healthcare providers who receive federal funding to physically perform or facilitate surgeries and procedures that conflict with their deeply held beliefs.

“No government agency ought to be in the business of evaluating the sincerity of another’s religious beliefs,” the court wrote in its order in Christian Employers Alliance v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “HHS Guidance encourages a parent to file a complaint if a medical provider refuses to gender transition their child, of any age, including an infant. The thought that a newborn child could be surgically altered to change gender is the result of the Biden HHS Notification and HHS Guidance that brands a medical professional’s refusal to do so as discrimination. Indeed, the HHS Guidance specifically invites the public to file complaints for acting in a manner the Alliance says is consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

“Beyond the religious implications, the Biden HHS Notification and resulting HHS Guidance frustrate the proper care of gender dysphoria, where even among adults who experience the condition, a diagnosis occurs following the considered involvement of medical professionals…,” the court added. “By branding the consideration as ‘discrimination,’ the HHS prohibits the medical profession from evaluating what is best for the patient in what is certainly a complex mental health question.”

“The administration’s mandates are crippling for the countless Christian-owned and operated businesses seeking to care well for their employees without the fear of punishing fines, burdensome litigation costs, the loss of federal funds, and even criminal penalties,” said Christian Employers Alliance President Shannon Royce. “As stewards of the health and safety of our valued employees, it is unconscionable and unconstitutional to be mandated to provide, pay for, or promote services and procedures that directly contradict our deeply held religious beliefs. We are pleased that we can continue to act consistent with those beliefs while our lawsuit proceeds and look forward to ultimately prevailing with our case.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Jacob Reed

Jacob Reed serves as legal counsel for the Center for Christian Ministries with Alliance Defending Freedom. Reed litigates on behalf of churches, Christian ministries, and religious schools to defend their constitutionally protected rights under the First Amendment. Before joining ADF in January of 2021, Reed was an associate attorney at Baker Dublikar in northeast Ohio. Reed earned his law degree summa cum laude from the University of Akron School of Law in 2019. While in law school, Reed was president of the Akron Law Christian Fellowship, was an associate editor on the Akron Law Review, and received certificates in trial advocacy/dispute resolution and constitutional law. He graduated from Kent State University summa cum laude in 2016 with a B.A. in political science–American politics. Reed is admitted to the Ohio and Virginia bars and multiple federal courts.

ABOUT Matt Bowman

Matt Bowman serves as senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he focuses on the impact of administrative law on religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and family. He most recently joined ADF in December 2020. From 2017 to 2020, Bowman was a senior executive service appointee in the Trump administration, serving the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Deputy General Counsel, and then in the Office for Civil Rights. Prior to joining HHS, Bowman was an accomplished litigator at ADF for over ten years. Before joining ADF in 2006, Bowman served as a law clerk for Judges Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Michael A. Chagares, at the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and for Judge John M. Roll at the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. Bowman earned his J.D. summa cum laude and was first in his class at Ave Maria School of Law in 2003. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and Michigan and is admitted to practice at the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple federal appellate and district courts.