Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Application of Laws to Specified Number of Employees
Some federal employment laws apply only to employers having a specified number of employees.

Key point 8-05.1. Many federal employment and civil rights laws apply only to those employers having a minimum number of employees. In determining whether or not an employer has the minimum number of employees, both full-time and part-time employees are counted. In addition, employees of unincorporated subsidiary ministries of a church are counted. The employees of incorporated subsidiary ministries may be counted if the church exercises sufficient control over the subsidiary.

* The United States Supreme Court ruled that the "15 employee" requirement for employer coverage under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is not "jurisdictional," and so employers with fewer than 15 employees lose this defense if they fail to raise it before the end of a trial. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers engaged in interstate commerce and having at least 15 employees from discriminating in any employment decisions on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, or religion. Some courts have ruled that the 15 employee requirement is "jurisdictional," meaning that a court does not have the legal authority to resolve a Title VII case involving an employer with fewer than 15 employees. As a result, an employer can raise the "less than 15 employees" defense at any time, even after a court renders a judgment. Other courts have ruled that the 15 employee requirement is not jurisdictional, but rather is simply a requirement for a Title VII claim. Under this interpretation, the "less than 15 employees" defense must be asserted in an employer's response to a lawsuit or it will be waived.

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Posted: March 1, 2007
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