Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Supreme Court To Weigh In on the Application of the Ministerial Exception

On Monday, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear yet another significant employment law case in its 2010-2011 term.  The case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, addresses the controversial ministerial exception to discrimination laws.

According to the school's petition (via SCOTUS blog), the question presented to the Supreme Court is:
[w]hether the ministerial exception applies to a teacher at a religious elementary school who teaches the full secular curriculum, but also teaches daily religion classes, is a commissioned minister, and regularly leads students in prayer and worship.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals previously decided that the ministerial exception did not apply because of the primarily secular duties of the teacher.  The school appealed, and the Supreme Court is now asked to resolve the question for lower courts.

This promises to be an important case for religious employers.  We will continue to provide updates as the case progresses.

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