Asked in Civil Rights for West Virginia

Q: Hi, Can I take legal action against a religious organization for refusing membership based on ableism?

I revent filled out application to join Unity Worldwide Ministries. The unity church in Charleston, WV denied my application based on fact I cannot physically attend church services every week.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: You may have grounds for legal action if a religious organization has refused membership based on disability, as this could be considered discrimination. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other civil rights laws protect individuals from discrimination based on disability, which includes access to public services and accommodations. However, religious organizations often have certain exemptions from some of these laws, so the specifics of your situation are crucial.

It's important for you to consult with an attorney who has experience in civil rights or discrimination law. They can provide detailed advice tailored to your case and help you understand your legal options. Documentation of the denial and any communication stating the reason can be particularly useful.

Additionally, reaching out to advocacy groups focused on disability rights could provide you with support and resources. They may offer guidance, legal referrals, and support strategies to address your situation. Advocacy groups can also provide insight based on similar cases and outcomes.

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