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Pastor Sues Church for Discrimination and Defamation

Courts are prevented from applying employment laws to churches and 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 federal court in Nebraska ruled that it was barred by the First Amendment from resolving a minister's discrimination and defamation claims against his church. A Catholic archdiocese assigned a priest (the "plaintiff") to work as an assistant pastor at a church. Conflicts immediately arose between the plaintiff and the church's senior pastor over several issues, including the manner in which the plaintiff performed religious liturgies, services, and teaching assignments; his availability for nightly parish activities, office hours, and other parishioner services; and his relationship with parish staff. The bishop ultimately transferred the plaintiff to another parish due to these continuing concerns. ...

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  • November 1, 2009

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Essential Guide to Employment Issues for Church Boards
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