A Win for Religious-Based Employers: Supreme Court Recognizes “Ministerial Exception” to Employment Discrimination

February 2012

Last month, in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a "ministerial exception" to employment discrimination laws, in what is likely to be a seminal case for religious-based employers. Until this point, the U.S. Supreme Court had not had the occasion to consider whether the concept of a religious organization's freedom to select its ministers is implicated by a law suit alleging discrimination in employment, although the federal Courts of Appeals have uniformly recognized that the ministerial exception does apply in this context. The U.S. Supreme Court has now confirmed that the ministerial exception exists to bar employment discrimination law suits brought by ministers against their employers.

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