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The Ministerial Exception and Racial Discrimination

Civil courts are prevented from applying employment laws to ministers.

Key Point 8-10.1. The civil courts have consistently ruled that the First Amendment prevents the civil courts from applying employment laws to the relationship between a church and a minister.

A North Carolina federal court ruled that it was barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a minister's claim that his denomination engaged in unlawful racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. An African-American minister (the "plaintiff") was employed by a state synod ("regional church") as a missions director. He claimed that he was subjected to racial discrimination and a hostile work environment and that the conditions became so intolerable that he was ultimately forced to resign. He filed a claim of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but the EEOC dismissed this claim on the ...

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Posted:
  • July 1, 2009

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