Kennedy v. Bremerton Sch. Dist., 991 F.3d 1004 (9th Cir. 2021)

Joseph Kennedy, a high school football coach, was not rehired after he repeatedly kneeled with team members (some of whom may have felt pressured to join him) and prayed at mid-field following games.  The school district warned Kennedy that his actions, which attracted media attention, could be perceived as endorsement of religion by the school district and that they interfered with the performance of job duties.  Kennedy sued for violation of Title VII and his First Amendment rights.  The district court granted the school district’s motion for summary judgment on the ground that the school’s actions were justified due to the risk of an Establishment of Religion Clause violation if Kennedy were allowed to continue with his religious conduct.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the school district had not violated Kennedy’s First Amendment rights nor his rights under Title VII; the Court held that Kennedy had failed to make out a prima facie case of disparate treatment based upon his religious beliefs.