April 30, 2020
By Amy Howe
Eight years ago, in a case called Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the Supreme Court recognized a “ministerial exception” to employment discrimination laws, reflecting the idea that religious institutions normally have the sole right to determine who can act as their ministers. The justices ruled in that case that the exception barred a lawsuit brought by a teacher and ordained minister at a Lutheran school who challenged the school’s decision to fire her. However, they declined to “adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a min However, they declined to “adopt a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a minister” in future cases. Next week, in a pair of cases involving teachers at Catholic elementary schools in California, the Supreme Court will consider how courts should determine when an employee is a “minister” for purposes of the exception.
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