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‘Exception’ could let church off hook in race discrimination case

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

A magistrate has recommended that a federal judge dismiss a race discrimination lawsuit brought by the Rev. Derrick Gomez against the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Gomez alleges that, while working as mission director for the synod’s Salisbury headquarters, he was excluded from meetings and retreats and forced to take phone calls in a supply closet. He also claims he was subjected to racial slurs.

The magistrate recommended dismissal of the case because of the so-called “ministerial exception” to discrimination laws. Churches and other religious organizations have the right to decide who will preach their religion. Secular laws can’t interfere with that right.

Religious organizations do have to comply with discrimination laws for other employees who aren’t involved in religious practices but perform ordinary jobs.

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