Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Provision in Tennessee Missions Agency’s Employment Contract Requires Employees’ Lawsuit to Be Resolved on Basis of Virginia Law
Tennessee
Key point A choice-of-law provision designates the state law that will govern a legal transaction.

A federal appeals court ruled that a "choice of law" provision in a missions agency's employment contract requiring all employment disputes to be adjudicated on the basis of Virginia law was enforceable and required a missionary couple's lawsuit in a Tennessee court asserting various employment claims had to be resolved on the basis of Virginia law. In 2006, a married couple (the "plaintiffs") began investigating the possibility of becoming missionaries with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (IMB). In 2008, the couple accepted missionary positions in India. The couple sold their home and most possessions, and the wife resigned from her job of 17 years. At the time of their assignment, the plaintiffs signed an employment contract stating: "Once approved for service, your relationship to the IMB will be that of an 'at will' employee of a Virginia religious, non-profit corporation, with all aspects of that relationship originating in Virginia and controlled by Virginia law."

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Posted: April 20, 2017
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