Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Dismissing Employees Who Develop AIDS
A lawsuit over the matter was dismissed for technical reasons.

Can a church be sued for dismissing an employee who develops AIDS? That was the issue before a Louisiana state appeals court. An AIDS victim worked for a church. A lawsuit brought against the church following his death claimed that the church had wrongfully terminated the employee on account of AIDS in violation of a state civil rights law. A trial court dismissed the case, and the estate appealed. A state appeals court upheld the dismissal of the case. It relied on a state law that permits certain classes of relatives to bring a lawsuit on behalf of a deceased person within one year of the person's death. In this case, the lawsuit was brought by the decedent's estate, and not his surviving relatives (a father and several siblings). By the time this procedural error was detected, the one-year time period for filing a lawsuit had expired. Accordingly, the case was dismissed for technical reasons. Overpeck v. Christ Episcopal Church, 577 So.2d 364 (La. App. 1991).

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Posted: May 1, 1992
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