Churches, church schools and other religious institutions don’t always have to follow federal employment laws. That’s because religious entities are entitled to operate free of interference with their religious practices—if the employees in question are part of that religious practice.
That doesn’t mean, however, that ordinary staff members such as secretaries and janitors aren’t protected by discrimination laws. The exception is appropriately referred to as the “ministerial exception.”
Recent case: Cheryl Perich worked as an elementary teacher for a Lutheran school, which employs two kinds of teachers—regular and those “called” to teach. Called teachers taught religious classes, led students in prayer and received special training. Perich was a called teacher.
Perich, who had been out on disability leave, had recovered enough to earn a clean bill of health from her doctor and had no medical restrictions. Yet the school fired her anyway when she tried to return to work. The EEOC sued on her behalf, claiming the school regarded her as disabled and fired her because it believed she was unable to safely teach.
But the court considering the case said Perich fit into the ministerial exception because of her special status as a religious instructor. Religious organizations are free to determine who can provide religious instruction, the court reasoned, and don’t have to comply with federal employment laws. It would have been different if Perich had been a regular teacher. (EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church, No. 07-14124, ED MI, 2008)
Final note: If your organization is religiously based, you still need to pay attention to HR laws. Make sure you find an attorney well versed in the First Amendment and employment law. Your lawyer can help you determine who is qualified for the ministerial exception and who is not.
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/8302/exception-covers-some-not-all-church-staff "
- County employees sell back their unused vacation time
- Jury awards $150,000 to worker in Tarrant County retaliation case
- Georgia Not Likely to Ban Sexual-Orientation Discrimination
- Employee or independent contractor? Get it right
- Sticker shock: First 'accident' in two years at Georgia plastics plant is a lawsuit