Vanderbilt Law Review

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Recent Cases

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The principle that the government must not only refrain from providing special preference to a particular religion, but, that it also must stand apart from religion in general is abridged once the government seeks to provide sustenance to religious interests. Government neutrality is preserved, however, when the government merely provides fertile ground on which religious interests can thrive independently. Because state-imposed employment accommodation of religious precepts creates proselytizing opportunities" upon which religious interests flourish and because there is no overriding government interest in requiring such accommodation, Title VII's Randolph Amendment transgresses establishment clause prohibitions.

John P. Kelly


The court perhaps considered it unnecessary to explicate fully the parameters of the employer's duty, since the instant case involved an activity that was not related directly to the employer's business operations and required no great expenditure to eliminate. The lack of a clear delineation of what duty an employer owes, however, renders the opinion of questionable usefulness in cases that involve more difficult factual situations.The court also fails to analyze whether injunctive relief is appropriate in all cases in which an employer has breached his duty to provide a safe workplace. Normally, injunctive relief is available only when all remedies at law are inadequate either because the impending harm is not compensable in monetary damages or because the harm is a continuing one that would necessitate a multiplicity of legal actions. Although the plaintiff in the instant case easily could have satisfied either of these conditions, the failure of the court to impose the traditional equity requirements, coupled with the court's broad statement as to its equity powers, may imply that injunctive relief is always available when an employer breaches his duty to provide a safe workplace. The propriety of such expansive injunctive relief, however, may be seriously questioned in states that have enacted occupational safety and health acts patterned after OSHA. The traditional requirement that all remedies at law be inadequate before equitable relief is available embraces administrative avenues of relief as well as judicial relief, and all of the state occupational safety and health acts provide extensive administrative remedies for occupational hazards. Courts in those states therefore may require those remedies to be exhausted, or at least shown to be ineffective or inapplicable," before they make injunctive relief available. Although analytically incomplete in several respects, the opinion of the instant court appears to reach the correct result. The common law purported to impose upon employers a duty to provide a safe workplace for their employees, but it provided no adequate remedy to compel compliance with that duty. The instant decision corrects this anomaly in the law and may well promote an invigorating reconsideration of the role of the common law in the field of occupational health and safety.

G. David Dodd