Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
FMLA Requirements
A federal court in New York ruled that a church pension board did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of the Family and Medical Leave Act when it dismissed an HIV-positive employee.
New York

Key point 8-10. The federal Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers with at least 15 employees, and that are engaged in interstate commerce, from discriminating in any employment decision against a qualified individual with a disability who is able, with or without reasonable accommodation from the employer, to perform the essential functions of the job. Accommodations that impose an undue hardship upon an employer are not required. Religious organizations may give preference to nondisabled members of their faith over disabled persons who are members of a different faith.

Key point 8-21. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act requires employers with 50 or more employees and engaged in interstate commerce to allow employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year on account of certain medical and family needs. There is no exemption for religious organizations.

* A federal court in New York ruled that a church pension board did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of the Family and Medical Leave Act when it dismissed an HIV-positive employee. A man (the "plaintiff") was employed by a church pension board (the "defendant"). The defendant had many different employment-related policies, which were printed in an employee manual. These included policies pertaining to equal employment opportunity; punctuality and attendance; sick leave; FMLA; leaves of absence; grievance procedures; and disciplinary procedures. The defendant also provided a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (" HIPPA" ) handbook as an appendix to the employee manual to advise employees of the issues regarding confidentiality and disclosure of health and medical information. The defendant claims to maintain a " zero tolerance policy" for discrimination and harassment.

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Posted: November 1, 2007
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