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Encountering Religion in the WorkplaceThe Legal Rights and Responsibilities of Workers and Employers$
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Raymond F. Gregory

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449543

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449543.001.0001

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The Ministerial Exception

The Ministerial Exception

(p.159) 13 The Ministerial Exception
Encountering Religion in the Workplace

Raymond F. Gregory

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the “ministerial exception” that exempts members of the clergy from the proscriptions of Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). Historically the courts have held that church decisions relating to the selection of clergy are exempt from the proscriptions of Title VII and ADEA. The courts are barred from adjudicating discrimination claims under those statutes when advanced by members of the clergy against the religious organizations employing them. The ministerial exception comes into play when an employee whose position is central to the spiritual and pastoral mission of a religious institution asserts a discrimination claim against that institution. This chapter considers a number of court cases that address the circumstances under which the ministerial exception applies where the employee-claimant is not an ordained minister; the extent to which the job functions of a lay employee must involve the exercise of pastoral or spiritual duties for the exception to apply; and what job functions fall within the sphere of the pastoral and spiritual.

Keywords:   ministerial exception, clergy, Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, discrimination, religious organizations, court cases

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