Jump directly to the content

Ministerial Exception

The law doesn't always protect pastors from employment discrimination.

Ministerial Exception

In employment disputes involving a pastor or minister of a church, the term “ministerial exception” comes up time and again. It is therefore imperative that all clergy have a good working knowledge of what this exception is and its legal underpinnings.

The importance of the Hosanna-Tabor ruling

The exception, which finds its origin in several federal and state judicial decisions in the mid-20th century, generally bars the civil courts from resolving employment disputes between churches and clergy. The ministerial exception was affirmed by a unanimous United States Supreme Court in a 2012 ruling. Hosanna–Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. E.E.O.C., 132 S.Ct. 694 (2012).

The Court concluded that the First Amendment prevents the civil courts from “interfering with the freedom of religious groups to select” their clergy.

Significantly, the Supreme Court ...

Join now to access this member-only content

Become a Member

Already a member? for full access.

Related Topics:
Posted:
  • March 3, 2020

Related ResourcesVisit Store

Essential Guide to Employment Issues for Church Boards
Essential Guide to Employment Issues for Church Boards
Covers selection and screening, dispute resolution, terminations, discrimination, and minimum wage.