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Ministerial Exception Prevents Court from Resolving Employment Dispute

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.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that it was barred by the "ministerial exception" from resolving an employment dispute between a church and its Director of Faith Formation. A church entered into a written, one-year employment contract with a woman (the "plaintiff") who served as its Director of Faith Formation. The contract described the plaintiff's duties, the annual salary and fringe benefits to which she would be entitled, the term of the contract, the facilities to which she would have access as Director of Faith Formation, and the procedures for employee evaluation and annual contract renewal. Additionally, the contract included provisions governing termination of the ...

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  • December 17, 2013

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