If yours is a religious organization, many employment discrimination laws may not apply to some employees who perform “ministerial” work.
Recent case: Music Director Philip Cannata was fired from his job at a Catholic parish. Cannata claims he was terminated because of his age and disability. The parish said Cannata couldn’t sue because his work was a ministerial part of the church’s religious mission.
The court agreed. It noted that Cannata chose music for religious ceremonies and participated in funerals, weddings and other services. It said his advice and control over musical selections indicated he was acting in a religious capacity. The court dismissed Cannata’s suit. (Cannata v. Catholic Diocese of Austin/St. John Neumann Catholic Church, No. A-1-CA-375, WD TX, 2011)
Note: The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard a case involving the ministerial exemption. Its decision could narrow the law on this issue.
- When cooperation drops as discipline escalates, OK to fire for insubordination
- Employee didn't apply, so college couldn't have discriminated
- New sex discrimination rules proposed for federal contractors
- Proactively stamp out racist behavior to cut liability for hostile environment
- Super Steel settles bias suit