Key Point 8-10.01. The civil courts have consistently ruled that the First Amendment prevents them from applying employment laws to the relationship between a church and a minister.
A Massachusetts court ruled that it was barred by the “ministerial exception” from resolving a church music director’s claims of unlawful discrimination.
Pastor accused of harassment and discrimination
A woman (the “plaintiff”) served as the director of music ministries at a Catholic church for 18 years. She resigned from her employment on the ground that the pastor at her parish had subjected her to age- and gender-based harassment and discrimination and had retaliated against her when she alerted the archdiocese.
She sued the archdiocese in a state court, but the court dismissed her lawsuit on the basis of the “ministerial exception,” which generally bars the civil courts ...