Hittle v. City of Stockton

September 25, 2023

Summary of facts: The former fire chief of Stockton, California was fired for, in the words of a city official, being “part of…a Christian Coalition” within the fire department, and for attending a faith-based leadership conference. The former fire chief sued in federal court under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of religion. He lost in the trial court and appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The appeals court panel ruled against the former fire chief, excusing the city official’s claim as a “reasonable inquir[y].” The former fire chief then filed a petition for rehearing, seeking reconsideration of the panel’s decision by the full Ninth Circuit.

RFI position: The Ninth Circuit should reverse the panel’s ruling against the former fire chief. As it now stands, this opinion provides a roadmap for employers to justify similar, impermissible inquiries into the practices of members of religious minority groups.

Read the amicus brief here.