• Key pointThe Civil Rights Act of 1964 The civil courts have consistently ruled that the first amendment prevents the civil courts from applying civil rights laws to the relationship between a church and a minister.
A Washington court ruled that it was barred by the first amendment from resolving a former church employee's claim that he was forced to resign his position because the church required him to perform more work than was called for in his employment contract. A man ("Paul") worked as "pastoral assistant for music" for a church from 1990 to 1993. When a new priest came to the church he decided to combine Paul's position with another position, and added to Paul's responsibilities in other ways. Paul resigned because he was unable to perform all of the assigned duties adequately. He later sued the church, claiming that the priest unilaterally increased his workload and changed his job duties in violation of the terms of his employment contract and without following the procedures in the personnel manual of the archdiocese. A trial court dismissed the lawsuit, and Paul appealed.