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Church Law & Tax Report

January/February 2007
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.


Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches, with Richard R. Hammar
Multi StateColoradoIowaMichiganMontanaNew YorkOhioRhode Island
Child Abuse; Child Abuse Reporting

Civil Liability for Failure to Report Child Abuse Member access only

Mandatory reporters who fail to report abuse can be subject to possible criminal liability and can be sued for money damages by the victims of abuse.
New York
Church Property

Church Property Ownership Member access only

A denominational agency was entitled to the property of a local church following a vote to disaffiliate itself from the denomination.
Compensation and Benefits; Income Taxes - Clergy; Payroll Tax Reporting

Failing to Report Compensation Member access only

Pastors who take money from their church without authorization, and fail to report it on their tax return, may be subject to criminal liability.
New Mexico
Clergy - Removal; Freedom of Religion

Age and Disability Discrimination Member access only

Most courts have concluded that they are barred by the First Amendment from resolving challenges by dismissed clergy to the legal validity of their dismissals.
Clergy - Removal; Employment Practices

Disability Discrimination Member access only

The application of the ministerial exception to FMLA claims.
Clergy - Removal; Defamation

Defamation and Church Clergy Member access only

A church's protection from defamation lawsuits.
Denominations - Legal Liability; Sexual Harassment; Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Church Liability for Sexual Harassment Member access only

A federal court in Oklahoma ruled that a church was not liable on the basis of sexual harassment for the conduct of a minister.
New York
Employment Practices; Freedom of Religion

Religious and Sexual Orientation Discrimination Member access only

A New York court ruled that a church could be sued by a former employee for discriminating against him on the basis of his religion and sexual orientation.
Clergy - Removal; Denominations - Legal Liability; Employment Practices

Age Discrimination and Denomination Policy Member access only

A minister's age discrimination lawsuit challenging a denominational policy requiring the retirement of ministers at 70 years of age was barred by the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Denominations - Legal Liability; Sexual Harassment; Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Negligent Supervision and Sexual Offenses Member access only

A court rejected a plaintiff's attempt to treat national, regional, and local churches as a "single employer" for liability purposes.


Q&A: Was the Two-thirds Voting Requirement Met at Our Church Business Meeting Member access only

The answer depends on the wording of your bylaws and the system of parliamentary procedure your church has adopted.