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Church Law & Tax Report

March/April 2019
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

Feature Article

Requirements for Hiring Foreign Nationals at Your Church

Requirements for Hiring Foreign Nationals at Your Church Member access only

From eligibility to site visits to records, recent headlines reiterate the need for compliance


Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches, with Richard R. Hammar
Confidential and Privileged Communications; Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Pastor’s Multiple Acts of Sexual Misconduct Not Necessarily Protected by First Amendment Member access only

The First Amendment does not categorically insulate religious relationships from judicial scrutiny.
Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Court affirmed Youth Pastor’s 40-year Sentence for predatory sexual assault Member access only

The defendant, despite his lack of a criminal history and his confession and remorse, was sentenced to a combined sentence of 40 years in a state penitentiary.
Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Six-Year Sentence for Youth Pastor Who Engaged in Sexting with a Member of His Youth Group Member access only

When social media communications evolve into “sexting,” this can expose the adult participant to felony criminal liability.
Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

A Church Could Be Liable for Negligent Hiring and Supervision Member access only

Negligent supervision claims are not premised on notice of a worker’s misconduct or the potential for it. Liability is based on a duty to supervise that . . . exists independently of what was known or should have been known about the worker himself.
Employment Practices

Fired Employee Can Sue for Pregnancy Discrimination Member access only

Courts are not prevented from ensuring that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine was the actual basis for a church’s decision to terminate an employee, rather than a pretext.
Employment Practices

Fired Transgender Employee Could Sue for Employment Discrimination Member access only

The court ruled that Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination in employment extended to a person’s transgender or transitioning status.
New York

Pastor Who Embezzled Ordered to Pay Restitution Member access only

Court ordered a pastor who embezzled a substantial amount of church funds to make restitution.
Confidential and Privileged Communications

Compelling Priest to Disclose Confidential Information Violated Religious Freedom Restoration Act Member access only

Case suggests that the RFRA may also serve as an alternative basis, in addition to clergy-penitent privilege laws, for protecting confidential communications with clergy from involuntary disclosure.
Church Business Meetings

“Church Autonomy” Applies in Church Name Dispute Member access only

Court barred by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine from resolving a church member’s lawsuit challenging the legal validity of a vote by church members to change the name of the church.
Child Abuse Reporting

Childcare Centers Did Not Owe a Duty of Care to the Victim Member access only

Court ruled that two childcare centers were not responsible for the death of an infant in another facility on the ground that they failed to report the worker’s prior acts of child abuse to civil authorities.