Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
The "Single Employer" Doctrine
Determining the degree of separateness between a church and an affiliated ministry.
Kentucky

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 fulltime 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.

Key point 8-12. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers engaged in commerce and having at least fifteen employees from discriminating in any employment decision on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, or religion.

A federal district court in Kentucky ruled that only employers with at least fifteen employees are subject to the nondiscrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that the fifteen-employee requirement could not be achieved by combining a church's employees with the employees of a retirement home that it owned. A male employee (the "plaintiff") of a church-affiliated retirement home sued his employer, alleging sexual harassment and discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits any employer, including a church, that is engaged in commerce and that has fifteen or more employees from discriminating in any employment decision as a result of a person's race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual harassment), or religion. The plaintiff alleged he was sexually harassed over a period of five years by a female supervisor.

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