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Ministerial Exemption Prevents Court from Resolving Lawsuit

Texas court claims they’re unable to resolve wrongful dismissal claim.

Key point 2-04.1. Most courts have concluded that they are barred by the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom and nonestablishment of religion from resolving challenges by dismissed clergy to the legal validity of their dismissals.

A Texas court ruled that the so-called "ministerial exception" prevented it from resolving a dismissed pastor's lawsuit claiming that he had been wrongfully dismissed by his church. In 2009, a pastor entered into an employment agreement with a church. The agreement provided that the pastor would serve as pastor of the church for a five-year period with the possibility of two additional five-year terms. In 2011 the church terminated the pastor's employment.

The pastor sued the church, and both state and national denominational agencies (the "church defendants") for breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress. He sought damages for loss of future ...

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  • December 22, 2014

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