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Can One Church Warn Another of a Former Employee's Misconduct?

A negative employment reference could create civil liability.

Can One Church Warn Another of a Former Employee's Misconduct?

If Church A dismisses an employee for misconduct and the former employee is hired by Church B, does Church A have a legal duty to warn Church B about the employee’s misconduct?

This article will review a recent case addressing this question, review several other cases, and conclude with a helpful checklist.

A recent case: McRaney v. Mission Board

In McRaney v. Mission Board, 304 F. Supp.3d 514 (N.D. Miss. 2018), a federal district court in Mississippi ruled that it was not barred by the ministerial exception or ecclesiastical abstention doctrine from resolving a case involving a minister’s claims against a denominational missions board.


A missions agency terminated the employment of its executive director (the “plaintiff”), an ordained minister. The plaintiff said an unrelated denominational missions board interfered with his business and contractual relationships ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • July 15, 2019