Home > Workplace > Spain > 2007-06-04 - Constitutional Court, n. 128/2007

2007-06-04 - Constitutional Court, n. 128/2007

Workplace · Spain · Dismissal · Faith-Based Organisation · Teaching religion

The religious authorities are entitled to dismiss a teacher of religion for ideological reasons

Key facts of the case - The plaintiff is a secularized catholic priest who got married in 1985. He is a member of the Active Movement in favour of optional celibacy (Movimiento Activo Pro-celibato opcional). This information was published, with plaintiff’s consent, in the Spanish newspaper La verdad. The plaintiff was latter dismissed from his post of teacher of catholic religion and liberties from the Centre for Technical Training of Caravaca (Instituto de Formación Profesional del Caravaca) The plaintiff, who deems that the dismissal was caused by his membership to the aforementioned Movement, alleges violation of the following articles of the Spanish Constitution: Article 14 (non-discrimination); Article 18 (privacy) and Articles 16 and 20 (freedom of conscience and thought and freedom of speech).

Main reasoning of the case - The case tackles a possible collusion of fundamental rights, since the bishop’s decision to revoke the authorization needed in Spain to teach religion in educational centres (DEI) is covered under the right of religious freedom (Article 16.1 of the Constitution) construed in the light of the constitutional principle of the neutrality of the State (Article 16.3 of the Constitution). The respondent alleges that there can be no breach of Articles 14 and 18 of the Constitution, since an employee who works for an institution with a specific ideology, does not have the right to use its rights to freedom of thought and of speech to publicly contest the employees ideology. This would be otherwise if the ideology was contested by individuals not voluntarily bound with the employee.
Furthermore, there has not been any discrimination prohibited by Article 14 of the Constitution as plaintiff continued teaching in the same conditions until his situation was made public. Freedom of religion and the constitutional principle of the neutrality of the State imply that it is the prerogative of the religious authorities to determine the suitability of teachers of religion. For the above reasons, the Court did not uphold the claim.