Pastor, Church & Law

General Employment Discrimination Laws 

§ 08.21.01

Key Point 8-21.01. Many state civil rights laws prohibit employers with a specified number of employees from discriminating in any employment decision on the basis of a variety of characteristics that may include race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital status, and sexual orientation. In some cases, these laws exempt religious organizations or clergy.

Most states have enacted laws banning a variety of forms of discrimination by employers. Many of these laws are patterned after federal laws summarized in this chapter, but some add additional kinds of prohibited discrimination, including marital status and sexual orientation. Many of these laws permit religious organizations to discriminate in employment decisions on the basis of religion.139 See, e.g., Gabriel v. Immanuel Evangelical Lutheran Church, 640 N.E.2d 681 (Ill. App. 4 Dist. 1994); Montrose Chris-tian School v. Walsh, 770 A.2d 111 (Md. 2001); Porth v. Roman Catholic Diocese, 532 N.W.2d 195 (Mich. App. 1995); Assemany v. Archdiocese of Detroit, 434 N.W.2d 233 (Mich. App. 1988); Geraci v. ECKANAR, 526 N.W.2d 391 (Minn. App. 1995); Sabatino v. Saint Aloysius Parish, 672 A.2d 217 (N.J. Super. 1996); Scheiber v. St. John’s University, 600 N.Y.S.2d 734 (A.D. 2 Dept. 1993); Speer v. Presbyterian Children’s Home and Service Agency, 847 S.W.2d 227 (Tex. 1993); Jocz v. Labor and Industry Review Commission, 538 N.W.2d 588 (Wis. App. 1995).

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