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Supreme Court Upholds Ministerial Exception (Right to Fire)

posted by Nicole Neroulias

I guess it’s true what they (sort of) say: You don’t go to the Supreme Court with the case you want, but the case you have. It didn’t seem to me that Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was a good example of a church’s “ministerial exception” right to fire someone in spite of anti-discrimination law — because the defendant was mainly a teacher, whose religious duties only came out to about 45 minutes of her day. Nevertheless, the church won. From the NYT story:

The case, Hosanna-Tabor Church v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 10-553, was brought by Cheryl Perich, who had been a teacher at a school in Redford, Mich., that was part of the Lutheran-Church Missouri Synod, the second-largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. Ms. Perich said she was fired for pursuing an employment-discrimination claim based on a disability, narcolepsy

Ms. Perich had taught mostly secular subjects but also taught religion classes and attended chapel with her class.

“It is true that her religious duties consumed only 45 minutes of each workday,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “and that the rest of her day was devoted to teaching secular subjects.”

“The issue before us, however, is not one that can be resolved with a stopwatch,” he wrote.Now

Now we’ll see what the ripple effects are…  How about a yeshiva firing a cafeteria worker for eating a ham sandwich during her break? A parochial school firing a janitor for getting divorced?

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.



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James Landis

posted January 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm


I think this is great. The sooner people realize that a church is a terrible employer, the sooner organized religion will go extinct.



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