U.S. Supreme Court Recognizes a "Ministerial Exception" Applies to Federal Anti-Discrimination Employment Laws

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Today, in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v .E.E.O.C., the U.S. Supreme Court held that there is a "ministerial exception" to Federal anti-discrimination employment laws. Despite the fact that the Federal Courts of Appeal have uniformly recognized such an exception for 40 years, the Supreme Court has never directly addressed the issue before today.

Relying on the First Amendment, the Court reasoned that permitting anti-discrimination lawsuits in such cases was an unconstitutional interference with a church's right to control the selection of those who will personify its beliefs.

Although it refused to adopt a rigid test as to who qualifies as a minister under this exception, it did set out a list of criteria forcourts to consider. These are...

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