Skip to comments.Ministerial Murkiness: Biggest Religion Case in 20 Years? (case before SCOTUS)
Posted on 07/06/2011 1:03:13 PM PDT by NYer
A dispute that pits the principle of church autonomy against an unfair firing claim is headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.
At issue is whether an elementary school operated by a Missouri Synod Lutheran church in Michigan was justified in dismissing a teacher attempting to return to work after a disability leave related to narcolepsy. She filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Though a decision may be an entire year away, churches are keeping a close eye on the case. The turning point is whether the teacher can be considered a ministerial employee, since she led prayer, devotions, and religion studies. If so, the church, Hosanna-Tabor, would be free to dismiss the teacher under the "ministerial exception" of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Rick Garnett, associate dean of the University of Notre Dame Law School, considers this the most significant religious freedom case in 20 years. He says a ruling against the school would narrow the existing exception too far, allowing courts to interfere with religious employment decisions. One in the school's favor would affirm the religious freedoms granted to institutions.
Garnett expects the court to affirm the existing exception. "What's harder to predict is the scope of that exception, or the test or standard the court will propose to lower courts," he said.
However, the legal counsel for the Assemblies of God sees Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC as having less significance. Richard Hammar said the challenge will be to clarify how the law applies to non-pastoral employees who perform religious functions.
"It could be of major significance if the court limits the ministerial exception [to] ordained pastors performing pastoral duties, but I do not foresee this happening," he said.
(Excerpt) Read more at christianitytoday.com ...
Never, ever trust a hyphenated named person!
I’m waiting for an airline pilot with narcolepsy to win an AWDA case
I think there are some air traffic controllers with narcolepsy. /s
I read the article. I’m gonna sleep on it and I’ll get back to you.
I read the 6th Circuit Court decision. There may be some unfortunate church vs. state implications involved here.
A religious organization discriminates against an employee by pressuring her to resign because of the employees physical disability, even though she has satisfied the religious criteria to be a commissioned teacher/minister and her doctor has stated she is fit for duty.
However, that religious organization maintains that if the employee verbally points out and objects to such illegal discrimination or actually files a complaint with the applicable government agency, the employee has violated the organizations religious tenets, thus allowing the religious organization to claim they deposed the individual for violating a religious tenet of the church and not because of any discrimination against that individuals physically disability.
Such a case would be similar to a pastor refusing to give the church council copies of his house key and then having the congregation depose the pastor because he violated an established religious tenet when he called 911 and reported that members of the church council were breaking into his house and stealing his property, rather than handling the break-in and robbery through the synods dispute resolution process.
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