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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.

Time to Update Your HIPAA Compliance Plan for Telehealth Policies and Procedures

The delivery of healthcare in this country may be forever changed following the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing services through telehealth technologies initially allowed providers to connect with patients in a safe and socially distant manner and helped keep vital hospital beds free for COVID-19 care. Now, while still a safe, socially distant option, telehealth allows patients to access healthcare services in an efficient manner, decreases the likelihood of cancellations, and expands access to services that do not require an in-person encounter (i.e., surgery, procedure, or test). Telehealth is now widely reimbursed by both federal and commercial payors and more provider types are able to provide telehealth services within their licensed scope of practice.

The SEC Amends Accredited Investor and Qualified Institutional Buyer Definitions

The SEC Amends Accredited Investor and Qualified Institutional Buyer Definitions

Landlord Alert: CDC Issues Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions

On September 1 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) issued a nationwide temporary halt on all residential evictions through December 31, 2020. With the July 24, 2020 expiration of the prior moratorium established under the CARES Act, the CDC based the new moratorium on the need to protect public health and the likely increase in the spread of COVID-19 if mass evictions take place.

BMD Obtains Supreme Court Victory on Behalf of Sterilite of Ohio, LLC

Columbus, Ohio – On August 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Ohio issued its opinion in Lunsford v. Sterilite of Ohio, LLC, Slip Op. No. 2020-Ohio-4193. The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision reversed an Ohio Court of Appeals ruling that had reinstated a putative class action against Sterilite brought by a group of current and former employees claiming that Sterilite’s use of “direct observation” urinalysis screening violated their common law right to privacy.

Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 & Reporting Requirement Updates – Deadline to Request Phase 2 Funds is August 28, 2020

On July 31, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) announced that certain Medicare, Medicaid (managed care and fee-for-service), CHIP, and other providers would be given another opportunity to receive additional Provider Relief Fund payments. HHS has allocated around $15 billion for Phase 2 distribution. Providers are eligible for these new distributions if they fulfill the following criteria and have not yet received a Provider Fund payment equal to approximately 2% of their revenue from patient care.