Religious Institutions First Amendment

News & Analysis as of

Religious Institutions: September 2015

Respondeat superior (literally, "let the master answer" in Latin) is a doctrine that applies when an employer or principal has the ability and authority to direct and control the pertinent acts of the employee. Put otherwise,...more

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms That Content-Based Sign Codes Violate The First Amendment

Now, more than ever, local municipalities should review their municipal sign laws to ensure that signs are not being regulated based on their message. This is in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that an...more

The NLRB Goes Back to Church (Schools), Gets Entangled

In our June 2015 blog post, “NLRB Moves to Assert Jurisdiction Over Religious Educational Institutions,” we reported that Regional Directors of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were beginning to exercise jurisdiction...more

Illinois Federal Court Dismisses Some, But Not All, RLUIPA Claims

A federal court in Illinois, in Church of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, Illinois (N.D. Ill. 2015), dismissed some of the Church’s religious land use claims while allowing others to proceed. The case is...more

Religious Institutions: August 2015

The decision by the United States Supreme Court on same-sex marriage has been greeted with praise and disdain by different corners of the country. The faith-based community has been especially outspoken. This is not...more

Right to Marry But Not to Work? Pennsylvania Catholic School Terminates Gay Married Teacher

Last month, Waldron Mercy Academy, a K-8 Catholic school located in Merion, Pennsylvania, fired Margie Winters from her position as Director of Religious Education, a job she had held for 8 years. According to Ms. Winters,...more

Religious Institutions Update: May 2015

Religious institutions commonly keep ministry supporters and members abreast of developments through newsletters, correspondence and other communications. Sometimes, the developments reported are embarrassing to those...more

Religious Freedom and the Affordable Care Act

The fascinating interplay that weaves between the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to march...more

Spiritual Director Doesn't Have a Prayer When it Comes to Her Discrimination and Termination Claims

Religious employers can rejoice once again, as yet another court upholds the ministerial exception and dismisses an employee's discrimination and termination claims....more

Kennesaw, Georgia Back in the News: Suffa Dawat Center Files “Preventative” Lawsuit

In December, we reported that Kennesaw, Georgia’s City Council reversed its initial decision to deny an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail shopping plaza.  Despite the approval, the applicant, Suffa...more

Religious Institution - January 2015

Experience over the last couple decades teaches that religious institutions face as much or perhaps more liability than secular organizations and, therefore, need to take risk management seriously. From operating their own...more

Glee Camp Not So Happy: Auburn’s Zoning Enforcement Action Alleged to Violate RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision

The First Presbyterian Church of Auburn (the “Church”) has hosted a musical theater day camp (“Glee Camp”) in Auburn, New York for approximately three years. In July of 2014, Auburn’s code enforcement officer issued a...more

The National Labor Relations Board Strikes Again – How Managerial Are Your Faculty and How Religious Is Your Institution?

In the latest example of dramatic changes to well-developed principles of federal labor law and policy, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or “Board”) issued its long awaited decision in Pacific Lutheran University,...more

Religious Institutions: October 2014

Timely Topics - Church splits and property disputes are not new, but they have certainly grown in number in recent years. In the seminal case on church property disputes, Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679, 20 L....more

Religious Institutions - March 2014

Under state and federal law, "whistleblowers" are a protected class and a broader category of persons than intuitively you might guess. When we imagine the quintessential whistleblower, the individual is usually someone who...more

Tax Exemption For Ministers Unconstitutional?

The Western District of Wisconsin recently issued a decision that makes the parsonage exemption unconstitutional as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution. This ruling is controversial and hotly...more

Religious Institutions Update - July 2013

Have you ever wondered how the United States Constitution came to incorporate "free exercise of religion" in the First Amendment? James Madison wrote the initial draft of the Bill of Rights. He and other Federalists initially...more

Religious Institutions Update: May 2013

Intellectual property is a legal construct referring to creations of the mind for which exclusive rights are recognized. Common types include copyrights, trademarks, patents, industrial design rights, trade dress and,...more

Religious Institutions Update: February 2013

Last February, at the request of Senate Finance Committee member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations was formed to address tax-related policy questions of import...more

Religious Institutions Update: December 2012

Although the most significant changes for large employers are still to come, implementation of the Patent Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Public Law 111-148) is in full swing. Already, employers must offer nursing...more

Religious Institutions Update: November 2012

Nearly everyone uses social media these days, from Facebook and LinkedIn to YouTube and Twitter. Employers have learned that social media can be a valuable recruiting device, enabling them to identify candidates with the...more

Religious Institutions: September 2012 Update

A corporation is an artificial or fictional person, ordinarily distinct from both its individual members or shareholders and its subsidiaries and affiliates, even when owned by just one person. A key reason many organizations...more

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