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Ministerial Exception to Title VII

On July 8, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision holding that religious institutions, such as churches and religion-based schools, are shielded from employment discrimination lawsuits — including claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In doing so, the Court decided in favor of two Catholic schools facing legal discrimination claims from former teachers who alleged wrongful termination from their employment for age and disability.

The cases, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel, concern the ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws which protect religious employers from certain lawsuits brought by employees. The exception, arising from protections under the First Amendment, bars the government from interfering with religious institutions’ hiring and firing of clergy.

The ruling ultimately broadens the ministerial exception to Title VII by holding that school teachers who perform a religious role in the course of their employment fall within a ministerial exception from civil rights protections afforded to other employees. To be under the exception, the individual does not need to be ordained and religion duties need only to make up a small portion of their overall responsibilities.

Here, the expanded ministerial exemption means that employees at religious institutions who perform any religious role will no longer be able to sue for sexual harassment, equal pay, and other civil rights protections under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

For more information, contact Bryan Meek at bmeek@bmdllc.com.

Investment Training for the Second and Third Generations

Consider this scenario. Mom and Dad started the business from the ground up. Over the decades it has expanded into a money-making machine. They are able to sell the business and it results in a multimillion-dollar payday for their labors. The excess money has allowed Mom and Dad to invest with various financial advising firms, several fund management groups, and directly with new startups and joint ventures. Their experience has made them savvy investors, with a detailed understanding of how much to invest, when, and where. They cannot justify formation of a full family office with dedicated investors to manage the funds, but Mom and Dad have set up a trust fund for the children to allow these investments to continue to grow over the years. Eventually, Mom and Dad pass. Their children enjoy the fruits of their labors, and, by the time the grandchildren are adults, Mom and Dad's savvy investments are gone.

Provider Relief Funds – Continued Confusion Regarding Reporting Requirements and Lost Revenues

In Fall 2020, HHS issued multiple rounds of guidance and FAQs regarding the reporting requirements for the Provider Relief Funds, the most recently published notice being November 2, 2020 and December 11, 2020. Specifically, the reporting portal for the use of the funds in 2020 was scheduled to open on January 15, 2021. Although there was much speculation as to whether this would occur. And, as of the date of this article, the portal was not opened.

Ohio S.B. 310 Loosens Practice Barrier for Advanced Practice Providers

S.B. 310, signed by Ohio Governor DeWine and effective from December 29, 2020 until May 1, 2021, provides flexibility regarding the regulatorily mandated supervision and collaboration agreements for physician assistants, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse practitioners working in a hospital or other health care facility. Originally drafted as a bill to distribute federal COVID funding to local subdivisions, the healthcare related provisions were added to help relieve some of the stresses hospitals and other healthcare facilities are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS Issues Opinion Regarding Illegal Attempts by Drug Manufacturers to Deny 340B Discounts under Contract Pharmacy Arrangements

The federal 340B discount drug program is a safety net for many federally qualified health centers, disproportionate share hospitals, and other covered entities. This program allows these providers to obtain discount pricing on drugs which in turn allows the providers to better serve their patient populations and provide their patients with access to vital health care services. Over the years, the 340B program has undergone intense scrutiny, particularly by drug manufacturers who are required by federal law to provide the discounted pricing.

S.B. 263 Protects 340B Covered Entities from Predatory Practices in Ohio

Just before the end of calendar year 2020 and at the end of its two-year legislative session, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 263, which prohibits insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers (“PBMs”) from imposing on 340B Covered Entities discriminatory pricing and other contract terms. This is a win for safety net providers and the people they serve, as 340B savings are crucial to their ability to provide high quality, affordable programs and services to patients.