Jump directly to the content

Recent DevelopmentsRecent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Court Applies "Ministerial Exception" to Church Discrimination Case
Employee discrimination claim left to church's decision.

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.

Key point 8-12.1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers engaged in commerce and having at least 15 employees from discriminating in any employment decision on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, or religion. Religious organizations are exempt from the ban on religious discrimination, but not from the other prohibited forms of discrimination.

Key point 8-12.4. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers engaged in commerce and having at least 15 employees from discriminating in any employment decision on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, or religion. The Act permits religious organizations to discriminate in employment decisions on the basis of religion. This exemption permits such organizations to discriminate on the basis of moral or scriptural standards so long as they do consistently and not in a way that adversely impacts employees who are members of a group that is protected under an applicable state or federal discrimination law.

A California appellate court ruled that it was barred by the "ministerial exception" from resolving the discrimination claims of a church preschool director who was terminated on the basis of her decision to live with her boyfriend without the benefit of marriage. A preschool operated by a Lutheran church required its teachers to sign a document prior to the start of each school year setting forth professional expectations. The preschool director (the "plaintiff"), who had teaching responsibilities, was required to sign the form. The plaintiff knew the school was "Bible-based." Although teachers were not required to attend the church, or be Lutheran (the plaintiff is Catholic) they were required to be practicing Christians "involved in a church-based setting on a regular basis."

Article Preview

This article is currently available to ChurchLawAndTax.com subscribers only. To continue reading:

View All
from our store
Essential Guide to Employment Issues for Church Boards

Essential Guide to Employment Issues for Church Boards

Covers selection and screening, dispute resolution, terminations, discrimination, and minimum wage.
Liability & Church and State Issues: Volume 4 of Pastor, Church & Law

Liability & Church and State Issues: Volume 4 of Pastor, Church & Law

Learn which local, state, and federal laws apply to religious organizations.

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.