- The ministerial exception protects religious employers from government interference in internal employment disputes involving the selection, supervision, and removal of individuals who play an important role relative to the core mission of the institution.
- To determine whether the ministerial exception applies in a specific case, courts must assess the nature of the duties or functions performed by the employee for the religious institution.
- Employees of religious institutions who are designated as performing functions vital to the core mission and that fall within the scope of the ministerial exception cannot pursue an employment claim.
- The Supreme Court stated: “When a school with a religious mission entrusts a teacher with the responsibility of educating and forming students in the faith, judicial intervention into disputes between the school and the teacher threatens the school’s independence in a way that the First Amendment does not allow.”
- This exception may apply to other lay employees of religious employers.
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