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The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, to decide whether the “ministerial exception,” which is supposed to protect a church’s first amendment rights, protecting freedom of religion, applies to teachers of secular subjects in religious elementary schools. Generally, the ministerial exception permits a church to make employment decisions that are religiously based, without having to worry about anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit religious discrimination.
The case involves the termination of a teacher, and whether that termination is protected by the ministerial exception. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard the case, found that the teacher was not a ministerial employee, and noted that “the overwhelming majority of courts that have considered the issue have held that parochial school teachers. . . who teach primarily secular subjects do not classify as ministerial employees for purposes of the exception.”

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