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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.

HHS Announces an Additional $20 Billion In Provider Relief Grants

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced an additional $20 billion in new funding for providers on October 1, 2020. Eligible providers include those that have already received Provider Relief Fund payments as well as previously ineligible providers, such as those who began practicing in 2020, and an expanded group of behavioral health providers confronting the emergence of increased mental health and substance use issues exacerbated by the pandemic. The new Phase 3 General Distribution is designed to balance an equitable payment of 2% of annual revenue from patient care for all applicants plus an add-on payment to account for revenue losses and expenses attributable to COVID-19.

DOL Proposes New Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Status - But How Will the Election Affect Its Future?

On September 22, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a new proposed rule regarding employee and independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The full text of the proposed rule is available here. The rule's drafters intend to reduce uncertainty and enhance the precision and predictability of the long-standing "economic reality" test, which currently relies on a multifactor balancing test.

Major Change to Franklin County, Ohio Eviction Process: Landlord Testimony Required

Although there is currently a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020 in place, the eviction process in Franklin County – which processes the highest number of evictions in the State of Ohio at approximately 18,000 a year – recently changed significantly.

UPDATE: Governor Dewine Signs HB 606 Granting Short Window of Immunity from COVID-19 Personal Injury Lawsuits

The Ohio General Assembly, in Am. Sub. H.B. No. 606, is in the final stages of passing a law that will prohibit lawsuits seeking damages from COVID-19. This includes injury, death, or loss to person or property if the lawsuits are based, in whole or in part, on the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of the coronavirus, unless the defendant in the lawsuit acted intentionally or recklessly. In circumstances where this immunity does not apply, H.B. 606 prohibits such claims being aggregated and brought as a class action.

Revised Department of Labor FFCRA Guidance, Effective September 16, 2020

In response to attacks on the legality of the Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Final Rule regarding the Families First Coronavirus Act (“FFCRA” or the “Act”), which took effect in April 2020, the Department of Labor issued new guidance on Friday, September 11th to formally address ongoing questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 legislation.