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Teacher Sues School for Age and Sex Discrimination

In many cases, non-ministerial employees may sue churches.

New Jersey
State:
Key point. The first amendment prohibits the civil courts from applying federal or state discrimination laws to the clergy-church relationship. However, most courts have ruled that this prohibition does not extend to church employees who are not ministers or who perform no ministerial functions.
• A New Jersey court ruled that a lay teacher could sue a Catholic high school for age and sex discrimination. The teacher had been employed from 1983 to June of 1991 to teach English and history. In 1991 she was informed that her position was being eliminated due to "budget problems". The teacher sued the school, claiming that the real reason she was being terminated was because of her gender and age (in violation of federal nondiscrimination law). As proof, she alleged that the school later replaced her with a younger, male teacher. The school defended itself by insisting that all teaching ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • May 1, 1997

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