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Religious Organizations May Be Exempt from Federal Antidiscrimination Laws

This report relates to 1 case(s)

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    Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, 132 S. Ct. 694 (2012) (0 other reports)

Author: Jessica Sussman

In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, +132 S. Ct. 694 (2012), the US Supreme Court considered whether the ministerial exception prohibiting employment-related suits against religious organizations barred a discrimination claim by a teacher who performed religious functions at a parochial school.

By way of background, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prevents the government from appointing ministers, while the Free Exercise Clause prohibits the government from interfering with a religious group's decisions regarding the employment of ministers. As such, the lower courts have historically recognized a ministerial exception with respect to federal antidiscrimination laws when it comes to employees of religious entities. Under the ministerial exception to Title VII, religious institutions have the right to fully control employment matters without inference from the courts, including the right to terminate an employee. Religious entities also have the right to restrict employment in certain positions to members of their faith and make employment decisions that promote religious principles.

In this matter, the Supreme Court considered the scope of the ministerial exception and who constitutes a minister for purposes of exemption from federal antidiscrimination law.