Supreme Court Rules on Church Employment Discrimination

In a groundbreaking case on January 11, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled for the first time that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination. The court, however, did not specify the distinction between a secular employee, who can take advantage of governmental protection against discrimination and retaliation, and a religious employee who cannot.

The case marked the first time the Supreme Court has acknowledged the existence of a “ministerial exception” to anti-discrimination laws. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that since this was the first time the Court has ever considered a “ministerial exception,” it would not set hard and fast rules on who can be considered a religious employee of a religious organization.

Click here for more stories on the opinion and its implications for churches.

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