Employees can’t count their work histories with religious organizations when seeking unemployment benefits.
Recent case: Douglas worked for a church as the organist and music director. When he was terminated, he filed for unemployment benefits. His request was denied because he hadn’t earned enough wages in recent quarters to qualify. The reason was that Texas law excludes earnings from religious organizations.
He sued, alleging deprivation of equal protection.
The court dismissed the case. It reasoned that as long as the Legislature had a solid reason for not including church wages, there was no constitutional problem. Because wages from jobs like organist are variable and irregular, calculating benefits is difficult or impossible. (Spicer v. Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church, No. 05-13-00465, Texas Court of Appeals, 2014)