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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

The Requirement of Employee Status

Volume 4 . Chapter 10 . § 10-02.1
Key point 10-02.1. Employers may be liable on the basis of respondeat superior only for the acts of employees.

Churches can be liable on the basis of respondeat superior for the negligent acts of employees committed within the course or scope of their employment. A number of courts have addressed the question of whether clergy are "employees" for purposes of imposing liability on an employing church. One of the first such cases was a decision by the Supreme Court of California. The case involved a 12-yearold boy who lost a leg and suffered serious injuries to his other leg because of an accident caused by the reckless driving of the pastor of a Presbyterian "missions" church. At the time of the accident, the boy was standing on the "running ...

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