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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Wrongful Discharge of an Employee

Volume 2 . Chapter 6 . § 6-07.7
Key point 6-07.07. Church board members may be personally liable if they participate in a decision to terminate an employee in a way that violates the employee's legal rights.

According to the tradition rule, an employee hired for an indefinite term was considered terminable at the will of either the employer or the employee. No "cause" was necessary. In recent years, the courts generally have permitted discharged "at will" employees to sue their former employer on the basis of one or more legal theories, including:

• Wrongful discharge in violation of public policy (e.g., employee terminated for filing a workmen's compensation claim, or for reporting illegal employer activities); • Intentional infliction of emotional distress (e.g., ...

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