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Ministerial Exception to Title VII

Client Alert

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.


House Bill 249: Key Updates to Involuntary Hospitalization Law for Mental Health Providers

House Bill 249 (HB 249) proposes changes to Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Sections 5122.01 and 5122.10 to expand the conditions under which a person with a mental illness can be involuntarily hospitalized.

Starting an Advanced Practice Provider Practice

Advanced practice providers (APPs), which includes non-physician providers such as nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse anesthetists, commonly start their own healthcare practices. Practices may provide, for example, service offerings such as primary care, anesthesiology, mental health, and aesthetics (medical spas). However, there are a number of considerations and steps that must be taken for APPs to compliantly function independently.

FTC Increases Targeting of Companies Lacking Cyber Protection

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently released a comprehensive cybersecurity report outlining key findings and recommendations based on emerging threats, trends in data breaches, and strategies for businesses to enhance their cybersecurity posture observed over the last year.

New Federal Medical Conscience Rule and Its Implications

The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights issued a Final Rule to clarify protections for healthcare providers who refuse services based on religious or moral beliefs. This includes protection against discrimination for refusing procedures like assisted suicide or abortion. The OCR can receive complaints, conduct investigations, and enforce these protections. Entities are encouraged to update policies accordingly and display a model notice provided by the OCR.

Marijuana Reclassification and APRN/PA Prescribing

Marijuana is expected to be reclassified by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule III controlled substance as a result of efforts by the Biden administration.