Newsflash to Judge Lynn Hughes: Lactation is Related to Pregnancy

I reported a little over a year ago about a discrimination case out of Texas. A fired employee sued for wrongful termination based on discrimination, claiming that she was fired due to her request to use the bathroom to breast-pump.

The judge on the case was Lynn Hughes. Judge Hughes was apparently willing to begrudgingly admit that taking adverse job action against a woman because of her pregnancy could amount to illegal discrimination, but that was as far as he was willing to go. In an infamous decision, Judge Lynn Hughes held: “Lactation is not pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” adding that after plaintiff gave birth, “she was no longer pregnant and her pregnancy-related conditions ended.” Based on that tortured logic, Judge Hughes held that the woman had no viable claim under Title VII’s prohibition (found in the “Pregnancy Discrimination Act,” or PDA) against discrimination based upon pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition.

To that, I responded: “The ruling is, of course, utter nonsense. Lactation occurs because of childbirth, and if a mother cannot pump or nurse, she is at risk of mastitis.” I predicted the case would be overturned on appeal, and I was right.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit just reversed the ruling by Judge Hughes, holding: “The EEOC’s argument that Houston Funding discharged [the employee] because she was lactating or expressing breast milk states a cognizable Title VII sex discrimination case.” The Court also held that “lactation is a related medical condition of pregnancy for purposes of the PDA.” As my kids would say, “no duh”.

I occasionally see judges make ridiculous decisions that show a fundamental inability to apply legal reasoning and logic. This poor woman was denied her day in court for more than a year because of an indefensible decision by Judge Hughes, who could not figure out that lactation is a part of pregnancy. Had the appeal not been taken up by the EEOC, the terminated employee might never have had her chance at justice. This decision should force Judge Hughes to realize that being a judge is just not a good match with his skill set, and he should pursue some other endeavor. Indeed, the Texas Civil Rights Project has already filed a complaint with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming judicial misconduct and asking for Judge Hughes to resign, relating to some allegedly racial comments he made.

Although the Court of Appeals put the case back on track, the employee still has some hurdles to overcome. The Court specifically stated that “nothing in this opinion should be interpreted as precluding an employer’s defense that it fired an employee because that employee demanded accommodations.” Some cases have held that an employee cannot state a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act for failing to “accommodate” breast-feeding or pumping, because lactation is not a “disability”. In this regard, the employer in this case appears to have been hoisted on its own petard. It claimed that the employee abandoned her job (which the Court rejected), so it cannot consistently claim that she was fired for making a request for an accommodation.

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Reporting a Fact is Never Defamatory

It is never defamation to report a fact, even if that fact is that a person was charged with a crime they did not commit. I understand why callers sometimes don’t understand this distinction. The completely innocent caller was falsely arrested, so it seems like a newspaper that reports the arrest is somehow making a false statement that the caller committed a crime. But look closer, caller. The paper did not report that you committed the crime, the paper reported that you were ARRESTED for the crime. Truth is an absolute defense to any defamation claim, and it is true that you were arrested.

What I don’t understand is how so many attorneys miss this point and pursue doomed defamation claims for their clients.

A recent example of this that caught my eye is a case out of Nevada. As reported by the Las Vegas Sun, the accounting firm of Deloitte & Touche was hired to perform an audit of a company called Global Cash Access Holdings, Inc., which is a publicly traded company that provided cash access services to the Nevada gaming industry.

The accounting firm uncovered information from an FBI bulletin which claimed that the two men who founded the company – Robert Cucinotta and Karim Maskatiya – were involved in criminal activity. As they were required to do by law, Deloitte & Touche disclosed this information to the audit committee. Cucinotta and Maskatiya were not happy with this disclosure, and felt it amounted to defamation because they were never convicted of any crimes and there was no evidence that they did anything criminal. They sued Deloitte & Touche, claiming that the disclosure cost the company $400 million in market capitalization and cost them $100 million personally.

But can you see why the comments by Deloitte & Touche were not actionable defamation? The accounting firm simply reported information that was contained in the FBI bulletin, as it was required by law to do. Certainly if those allegations against two principals of the company proved to be true it would greatly impact the value of the company, so that information was quite properly reported.

The Nevada Supreme Court, in a decision written by Justice Michael Cherry, said, “We agree with our sister jurisdictions that those who are required by law to publish defamatory statements should be privileged in making such statements.” In this case the court said Deloitte’s communication to the audit committee of the cash access company was required by the federal securities law.

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California Court of Appeal Rejects “Multi-Tasking” Argument for Exempt Employees

An interesting case involving the Safeway grocery chain could have some far reaching ramifications for California employers.

First a little law. In California, a manager can be exempt from overtime pay, so long as the manager is “primarily engaged” in managerial duties. As was the case many years ago when I worked at a grocery store, managers typically do far more than manage. This case shows little has changed, and the plaintiff, Linda Heyen, when promoted to assistant manager, continued to do all the things she had done before she was promoted, but with added supervisory duties. So, when Heyen was fired, she sued, claiming that she should not have been treated as an exempt employee and was entitled to overtime pay.

Safeway argued that Heyen was properly categorized as exempt, because she was primarily engaged in managerial duties, regardless of what she was doing. When she was stocking shelves, she was still supervising the other employees. When she was running the register, she was still supervising other employees. Here is the claim by Safeway:

Safeway urges that store managers such as Heyen necessarily “multi-task” by engaging in “exempt” and “nonexempt” activities at the same time. In other words, while Heyen and other managers “might be checking and bagging (or doing stock work) they were also always still managing the store operations, including engaging in activities such as observing store operations and employee activities, and instructing employees in their assignments and any corrective measures that needed to be taken.” By instructing the jury that it must determine whether an activity was “exempt” or “nonexempt” based on the primary purpose for which Heyen undertook it, the court “effectively [read] the concept of concurrent duties almost out of existence.” Instead, Safeway suggests, the trial court should have instructed the jury that any time Heyen spent simultaneously performing “exempt” and “nonexempt” duties “should be considered to fall on the `exempt’ side of the ledger.”

Here is how the Court of Appeal responded to that argument:

Although there is some intuitive appeal to Safeway’s contention, it is unsupported by California law. As we have said, the federal regulations cited in Wage Order 7 expressly recognize that managers sometimes engage in tasks that do not involve the “actual management of the department [or] the supervision of the employees therein.” (§ 541.108(a).) In those circumstances, the regulations do not say, as Safeway would have us hold, that those tasks should be considered “exempt” so long as the manager continues to supervise while performing them. Instead, the regulations look to the supervisor’s reason or purpose for undertaking the task. If a task is performed because it is “helpful in supervising the employees or contribute[s] to the smooth functioning of the department for which [the supervisors] are responsible” (§ 541.108(a), (c)), the work is exempt; if not, it is nonexempt.

Thus, the federal regulations incorporated into Wage Order 7 do not support the “multi-tasking” standard proposed by Safeway. Instead, they suggest, as the trial court correctly instructed the jury, that the trier of fact must categorize tasks as either “exempt” or “nonexempt” based on the purpose for which Heyen undertook them.

The lesson here for employers is that you don’t get to create exempt employees with a change in title, unless that employee really does become a manager performing primarily managerial duties. From the employee’s perspective, if you get a promotion to manager, but find yourself still performing the same duties, then you are probably entitled to overtime pay.

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It’s Not Defamation if No One Knows it’s You

Sammy Hagar BookAs the old saying goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?* In the context of defamation law, the saying could be, “if no one knows it’s you, is the statement still defamatory?” The answer is no.

I get a surprising number of calls like this. Now that anyone can publish a book with a few mouse clicks, more people are publishing their life stories, and those stories always manage to irritate someone. That someone then calls me, stating that some person in the book is them, and they want to sue for defamation. They go on to explain that the name given is not theirs, that the geographic location given is someplace they have never lived or visited, and the gender has been changed, but they know it’s them and damn it they want to sue. In some cases it is clear that the caller made the whole thing up in their mind, but in other cases it is clear that the person referenced really is the caller. Even so, if the author changed the identity so much that no one would recognize them, there is no case.

Today’s example involves rocker Sammy Hagar. He wrote a book called “Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock“, which tells a story of a woman he had sex with following a concert, who later claimed to be pregnant.  He explains that he paid her some support during the alleged pregnancy, but that no child was ever born and he now thinks the entire thing was simple extortion. Had he named her, that would have supported a claim for defamation since he accuses her of a criminal act, but she is identified only as a “Playboy bunny from California”. Apparently the woman in question was a Playboy bunny, but Hagar changed the state from Michigan to California, perhaps specifically to make her less identifiable.

Nonetheless, the still unidentified “Playboy bunny from California” sued Hagar for defamation and infliction of emotional distress. Not surprisingly, the trial court today threw out the case.

U.S. District Court Judge Linda Reade ruled that Hagar did not defame the woman because he did not refer to her by name in the book – identifying her erroneously as a “Playboy bunny from California” – and the woman did not prove she suffered any financial, reputational or emotional injuries from his statements. Only individuals who already knew about their relationship, not the general public, would have understood Hagar was referring to her in the book, she added.

Although Hagar’s statements in ‘Red’ brought back painful memories for Doe, the evidence does not support a finding that Hagar’s conduct was extreme enough to permit the court to find outrageous conduct sufficient to support Doe’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, Reade wrote.

 

* It’s a deep thought, but I’ve always thought it was kind of silly because of course a falling tree makes a sound. The laws of physics don’t stop just because no one is there.

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Is Discrimination Against Redheads Illegal in the Workplace?

redheadWhen I am explaining the concept of at-will employment, to illustrate the point that an employer can fire an employee for anything so long as it does not violate public policy or statute, I will sometimes say, “He could decide he doesn’t like the color of your hair and fire you for that.” But an interesting case out of New Jersey might prove me wrong.

According to an article in the New York Post, the NYPD sent out an anti-bias message this month to Manhattan sergeants and lieutenants, who were told that redhead harassment would not be tolerated.

“We’re apparently victims now,” said one cop with ginger locks. “We’re protected from discrimination.”

No lawsuit has been filed against the city, but the feds say a claim alleging unfair treatment over red hair would be supported by federal law, which bars workplace bias against applicants and employees based on race, national origin, skin color, religion, sex or disability.

Wait a second. What does hair color have to do with any of those protected classes? That’s were things get interesting. Think about it. If you had to guess the nationality of someone with red hair, what would you pick? You’d probably guess Ireland, because people with red hair are found in higher numbers in Britain and Ireland than elsewhere, according to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. So if someone could prove discrimination against redheads, that would mean that there is a disparate impact against those of Irish dissent, and nationality is a protected class.

These are the sort of mental games that only attorneys play. In the real world, it would be very unlikely that anyone is going to suffer adverse job action or discrimination based on being a redhead. As one retired officer quoted by the New York Post stated, “To put redheads in a protective class — that’s ridiculous!” However, the analysis is still useful to illustrate how a seemingly “innocent” form of bias can create illegal discrimination.

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Demand Letters Can Stray Into Civil Extortion — Miguel Mendoza v. Reed K. Hamzeh

If the threat of getting in trouble with the State Bar is not enough, maybe the threat of both civil and criminals actions will get attorneys to toe the line.

You know that it is an ethical violation for an attorney to threaten criminal action as a means to extract a civil settlement. For example, California’s Rules of Professional Conduct state that “a member shall not threaten to present criminal, administrative, or disciplinary charges to obtain an advantage in a civil dispute.” (Rule 5-100.)

Then there are the criminal extortion laws:

“Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his consent . . . induced by a wrongful use of force or fear. . . .‟ (Pen. Code, § 518.) Fear, for purposes of extortion ‘may be induced by a threat, either: [¶] . . . [¶] 2. To accuse the individual threatened . . . of any crime; or, [¶] 3. To expose, or impute to him . . . any deformity, disgrace or crime[.]’ (Pen. Code, § 519.) ‘Every person who, with intent to extort any money or other property from another, sends or delivers to any person any letter or other writing, whether subscribed or not, expressing or implying, or adapted to imply, any threat such as is specified in Section 519, is punishable in the same manner as if such money or property were actually obtained by means of such threat.’” (Pen. Code, § 523.)

Despite these prohibitions, some attorneys can’t resist throwing a threat of criminal action into their demand letters. They apparently think (if they give it any thought at all) that an express or veiled threat of criminal action will be protected under the litigation privilege, but that is not the case. If you include a demand for money in a letter that threatens to pursue criminal action, you have committed extortion, and as Flatley v. Mauro held, that is not protected speech because criminal acts are not protected.

The most recent example of this was discussed in the just published decision of Miguel Mendoza v. Reed K. Hamzeh. According to the opinion, an attorney named Reed K. Hamzeh was representing a client named Guy Chow, seeking to recover money allegedly owed to Chow by Miguel Mendoza. The dispute concerned Mendoza’s employment as the manager of Chow’s print and copy business. Hamzeh sent a letter to Mendoza’s attorney, which according to the opinion stated:

“As you are aware, I have been retained to represent Media Print & Copy (“Media”). We are in the process of uncovering the substantial fraud, conversion and breaches of contract that your client has committed on my client. . . . To date we have uncovered damages exceeding $75,000, not including interest applied thereto, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. If your client does not agree to cooperate with our investigation and provide us with a repayment of such damages caused, we will be forced to proceed with filing a legal action against him, as well as reporting him to the California Attorney General, the Los Angeles District Attorney, the Internal Revenue Service regarding tax fraud, the Better Business Bureau, as well as to customers and vendors with whom he may be perpetrating the same fraud upon [sic].”

The letter goes on to list Mendoza’s alleged transgressions, including failure to pay Media‟s employees, sales taxes and bills.

What followed next was Flatley all over again, with some additional twists. In May 2011, Mendoza responded to the demand letter by filing an action against attorney Hamzeh, asserting causes of action for civil extortion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and unfair business practices. Just as in Flatley, Hamzeh thought his letter was protected under the litigation privilege, and brought an anti-SLAPP motion to strike Mendoza’s complaint. But here, the plaintiffs counsel had the benefit of the already decided Flatley, and wrote to Hamzeh to say that the anti-SLAPP motion would be frivolous since the facts fell squarely under that decision. Hamzeh decided to go ahead regardless, and after the court denied the motion it awarded attorney fees on the grounds that the motion had, indeed, been frivolous. Hamzeh then appealed from the denial of the anti-SLAPP motion, and lost. The action against Hamzeh for civil extortion and the other causes of action will now proceed.

The takeaway from Hamzeh’s experience is that the standard for civil extortion is very low. On appeal, Hamzeh argued that his demand letter was not nearly as egregious as the one utilized in Flatley, which was true, but as the court found, the issue is not how far the letter goes, it is whether it amounts to civil extortion as a matter of law. As you can see from the Penal Codes above, that requires only a demand for money in conjunction with a threat to “expose, or impute to him . . . any deformity, disgrace or crime . . . .” That standard is incredibly broad! It doesn’t even matter whether or not a crime occurred that can be properly reported. Further, as I just realized in preparing this article, the threat doesn’t even need to concern criminal conduct; it is enough to threaten “disgrace”. If an attorney wrote a letter suggesting that the defendant should settle to avoid having his family realize what he had done, it appears that would constitute civil extortion.

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Do You REALLY Want to Fight that Case?

Don't Fight a Case with no Defense

Too many attorneys and their clients defend against cases that have no defense.

You took out a loan, your financial circumstances went south, and you were not able to repay the loan. Now you have been served with a complaint from the lender, so you take it to an attorney to see what can be done. So far so good, but consider your options very carefully. Some attorneys are more than happy to take your money and pursue a defense, but do you have a defense? Delaying the action for a year while you try to get your finances back in shape might have some appeal, but a defense can sometimes leave you in much worse circumstances. Here are two cases from my practice that illustrate what I am talking about.

The case of the defaming doctor.

In the first case, we brought an action against a doctor who had defamed our client. When the doctor’s contract at a hospital was not renewed, she decided our client was to blame. She took to the Internet and posted false comments about his job performance, in some cases assuming the false identity of a nurse and in others a patient. When we presented irrefutable proof that she had published the anonymous comments, she admitted what she had done. If ever there was a case that should have settled, this was one, but her insurer picked up coverage and for unknown reasons decided to fight the case right through trial, despite our very reasonable settlement demand.

The result was disastrous for the doctor. The case went to a jury verdict, and since the verdict was now a matter of public record, I was free to write about it, as were other attorneys and news organizations who found the story interesting. An Internet search of her name now brings up news of her bizarre behavior in multiple places on the first page of the search results, including the top position on Google.

A complaint contains only allegations, and anybody can allege anything about anyone. It might be frustrating to have those allegations in the public domain, but at that point the claim can still be made that they are only allegations, and a settlement can keep the entire matter confidential. Once the matter goes to verdict, the claims are no longer allegations, they are proven facts, and can be reported as such. I am the first to suggest fighting the good fight, but this doctor admitted she posted the false, defamatory comments. Where did her counsel think he was going to go with that? Taking the matter to trial only made a bad situation far worse. I can’t imagine anyone hiring this doctor after reading about what she did. The information posted about this case will undoubtedly be a source of embarrassment for this doctor for years to come, and that could have been easily avoided.

The case of the unpaid loan.

But if the doctor’s fate was bad, it pales in comparison to the unfortunate defendant who failed to repay a loan to our client. The defendant in this case is a wheeler-dealer who as far as I can tell has never held a day job, but promotes various business ventures and raises money for those ventures. Our client loaned over $200,000 to the defendant, and in pursuing the case we learned that he obtained the loan under false pretenses. I decided to add a cause of action under the criminal code for theft, which if successful would entitle our client to treble damages and all attorney fees. Continue reading

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Court Finds that Statement about Cause of Suicide is an Opinion

An interesting defamation case out of New York, involving the world of music and illustrating the burden of proof.

As explained here on various occasions,  truth is a defense (a point sadly lost on many defense attorneys). Thus, the burden of proof is on the defendant to show the truth of whatever it is he said or published.

In one of our recent cases, the defendant falsely stated that our client had cheated customers. Throughout the case, no matter how many times I explained to defense counsel that it would be his burden to prove that my client cheated customers, he kept responding, “you’ll never be able to prove that your client didn’t cheat customers.”

Really? My client took the stand and testified that he has never cheated a customer. That’s all it takes. The defendant then had the burden to prove the truth of the statement, and could not name a single customer our client had cheated. Judgment for plaintiff.

In today’s case, Tom Scholz, guitarist from the 70’s rock band Boston, sued the Boston Herald newspaper, claiming that certain articles falsely claimed that he was responsible for the suicide of fellow band member Brad Delp in 2007.

The judge in the case dismissed the action, because although it is the burden of the defendant to prove the truth of the statement, the judge concluded that the truth or falsity of the statement could never be determined. He didn’t use this example, but to borrow an example from that era, it’s a little like blaming Yoko Ono for the break-up of the Beatles, when John Lennon isn’t here to testify. The judge ruled that why Delp killed himself will forever be an imponderable, making any statement about the suicide merely an opinion, and opinions are not actionable.

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Appeal Victory: Treble Damages for Theft Affirmed Against Defendant

As we reported in October of 2011, we persuaded an Orange County Superior Court Judge to apply Penal Code section 496(c) – making it illegal to receive stolen goods – to a case where the defendant had failed to repay a loan. The loan agreement did not provide for attorney fees, so by bringing the civil action under Penal Code section 496(c), our client was entitled not only to recovery of all of her attorney fees, but treble damages as well.

The case involved a loan made by our client to the defendant, who we will call Joe Badguy. Badguy and his entities failed to repay the loan, and we were retained by the plaintiff to sue. I am always bothered by cases where the worst that can happen to the defendant is that he is made to repay the money that he borrowed in the first place (plus interest). Most attorneys would have pursued this as a garden variety breach of contract case. However, since the loan agreement did not provide for attorney fees, Badguy would face no downside in fighting such an action. Sure, he would incur his own attorney fees, but at the end of the day the case would likely have settled for less than what was owed, or gone to trial and resulted in a judgment for only the loan amount. Our client would have been left far from whole.

We figured out a better way. Penal Code section 496(c) makes it illegal to receive stolen property, and provides for a civil action to recovery any losses that result from violation of that criminal code. We included a cause of action under that statute, arguing that Badguy had used a false pretense to obtain the money from our client. Basically, he told her he had a certain valuable trademark, and that the money from the licensing of that trademark would be used to repay the loan. It turned out he did not own that trademark, and he made no money from its licensing.

A quick aside for an important concept. Picture that an aluminum salesman comes to your door and sells you aluminum siding for $12,000. He presents you with and you sign an agreement for the installation of the aluminum siding, you pay the $12,000, and then he never installs it. You sue for breach of contract, but during discovery you find out that he is not even a licensed contractor and has no access to aluminum siding. You can add a claim for fraud, and that gives you a shot at punitive damages, but basically your damages are the same under both the breach of contract and fraud causes of action — the $12,000 you paid for the aluminum siding that was never installed.

But here’s the thing. If he had come to your door, put a gun in your face and stolen the $12,000, everyone would understand that was a theft. The fact that he used a bogus contract instead of a gun to steal the money from you does not make it any less of a theft. That reality is so self-evident, but it escapes many judges. Kudos to Judge James Di Cesare who understood that a theft is a theft, whether by way of burglary, robbery or bogus contract.

Let me make this perfectly clear. It a party enters into a contract, and simply fails to perform, that is still nothing more than a breach of contract. But if a party enters into a contract in order to obtain money or other property from the other party to the contract, knowing that he has no ability to perform, that is both fraud and theft. Badguy argued on appeal that if the court affirmed this verdict, all breach of contract actions would become claims for theft. As you can see, that simply is not true.

And now back to our story. The Judge agreed that this was more than a simple breach of contract, and amounted to receipt of stolen property (the money). Although he expressed that he didn’t like it, because it afforded a set “penalty” with none of the considerations of a punitive damages claim, he agreed that the criminal statute applied, and awarded three times the damages, and all of our attorney fees. Our client had loaned Badguy $202,500, but the total judgment was just under $700,000.

Although Judge Di Cesare saw this as a bad thing, from the viewpoint of the victim and her attorney, this application of Penal Code section 496(c) affords another huge benefit. The same result (albeit without the attorney fees) could be achieved with a fraud action and the award of punitive damages. However, punitive damages require a showing of the defendant’s net worth and the ability to pay the damages. That can be a huge hurdle when the defendant is someone like Joe Badguy, because he won’t have any property in his name or show any personal income. The purpose of punitive damages — punishing a wrongdoer — is sometimes thwarted where it is most appropriate, if the defendant is successful at hiding his assets. Conversely, the treble damages under 496(c) are a fixed penalty, and require no such showing.

Joe Badguy appealed the treble damages aspect of the judgment, claiming (1) his conduct did not amount to a theft; (2) that a civil action could not proceed under 496(c) unless he had first been criminally convicted; and (3) if he was the party who stole the money, he could not be convicted for receiving it.

The Court of Appeal rejected his arguments, and affirmed the judgment. The Court found that the criminal statute means exactly what it says. It agreed with us that theft by false pretense (the bogus contract) is still a theft, that there need not first be a criminal conviction, and that even the person who steals the money is still liable for receiving it. As icing on the cake, the Court of Appeal decided that our application of the statute, and the fact that the statute has generated no appellate decisions, made the opinion worthy of publication. In the future, when we advance this theory and encounter a judge who just can’t wrap his or her mind around the concept, we can cite to our own case as authority.

Here is the published opinion.

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Parents Claim Yoga Classes Violate First Amendment

Yoga as violation of First Amendment
“Foolery, sir, does walk about the orb like the sun. It shines everywhere.” — William Shakespeare

Parents in San Diego are objecting to yoga classes offered at a grade school, claiming they violate the First Amendment. As reported by the New York Times, the parents claim that yoga promotes Hindu religious beliefs.

The Times quoted Mary Eady, the parent of a first grader, who stated, “They’re teaching children how to meditate and how to look within for peace and for comfort. They’re using this as a tool for many things beyond just stretching.”

The problem is that the parents have fallen prey to a false syllogism. Here is how it played out. The yoga program at the school is supported by a nonprofit organization called the Jois Foundation. Some members of that foundation have the view that yoga is part of a spiritual experience that goes beyond exercise and stretching. Since they believe and espouse that, the parents therefore believe that yoga is part of a religious belief.

However, any activity can be found to have religious significance, and it is the participant who decides whether to ascribe the religious tie-in. To use an analogy, if I bought a pool for a public school, and then gave a speech about how I believe swimming is akin to receiving a Christian baptism, then should all parents pull their children out of any swim classes on First Amendment grounds because of my beliefs? This point becomes even more obvious when you consider that even the Foundation members don’t agree. “We’re good Christians that just like to do yoga because it helps us to be better people,” Foundation member Russell Case told the Times.

I did enjoy the quote from the school’s superintendent, Tim Baird. “If your faith is such that you believe that simply by doing the gorilla pose, you’re invoking the Hindu gods, then by all means your child can be doing something else,” he told the Times.

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