Churches have various defenses available if they are sued as a result of a personal injury. One such defense is an arbitration policy. By adopting an arbitration policy, a church can compel members to arbitrate specified disputes with their church rather than pursue their claim in the civil courts.
In Hayward v. Trinity Church, 2015 WL 1924552 (M.D. Tenn. 2015), a federal district court in Tennessee ruled that an agreement between a church and a church employee to arbitrate all employment disputes was enforceable, and therefore a dismissed church employee's lawsuit seeking unpaid overtime compensation had to be arbitrated.
A part-time church employee (the "plaintiff") was promoted to a full-time position as facilities manager. Upon his promotion, the plaintiff and his employing church signed an arbitration agreement that provided, in part, "I [plaintiff] agree ...