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Friday, November 18, 2011

Impact of Hosanna-Tabor?

A friend sent me this link about a Fair Labor Standards Act case recently filed against the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY).  I haven't seen the complaint, but the news blurb says the plaintiff was a youth group advisor and her responsibilities included "teaching classes, meeting with students and co-workers, cooking for holiday meals and running programs, . . . and she worked around the clock while chaperoning [weekend religious retreats] and trips." 

When I saw the story, it struck me that the claims would pretty clearly run up against the "ministerial exception."   On its webpage, NCSY describes itself as "the premier organization dedicated to connect, inspire and empower Jewish teens and encourage passionate Judaism through Torah and Tradition."   The plaintiff appears to have been a youth advisor for events aimed at the religious "inspiration" of teens (religious teaching, coordinating religious events and holidays etc.).  So it seemed to me that pre-Hosanna-Tabor precedent (see, e.g., Schleicher v. Salvation Army, 518 F.3d 472 (7th Cir. 2008); Shaliehsabou v. Hebrew Home of Greater Wash., Inc., 363 F.3d 299 (4th Cir. 2004)) would likely counsel dismissal of the case. 

And so the following question struck me.  Has there been a visible uptick in complaints with claims implicating the ministerial exception with an eye towards that Supreme Court's decision in Hossana-Tabor?  I might have thought parties would wait to see the Supreme Court's decision, but maybe the uncertainty itself is enough to trigger a wave of new litigation.

Posted by Michael Helfand on November 18, 2011 at 12:32 PM in Constitutional thoughts, Religion | Permalink


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Posted by: Jacob Thomas | Jun 28, 2021 3:16:53 AM

In 2007, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Michigan found itself in a surprising position: a commissioned minister and teacher was suing them. Cheryl Perich, a commissioned minister in the church, taught fourth grade, taught religion, and led worship services.ThankYou for sharing this informative piece of article.For more details on this please visit my paper writer.

Posted by: Jacob Thomas | Jun 28, 2021 3:16:09 AM

I stand corrected. Thoses cases squarely hold that the ministerial exception applies to the FLSA. It greatly bothers me and I doubt I will feel much better after the Sup Ct opinion. It seems to me if religious organziations want exemptions from generally applicable laws that contrain and protect the rest of society, that they should not be getting money from the federal gov't for so called "secular" activities.

Posted by: adjunct law prof | Nov 19, 2011 8:58:35 AM

Adjunct Law Prof,

Check out the two cases I mentioned and let me know what you think. They're both FLSA cases and that looks like where the law is - at least until we hear from SCOTUS.

Posted by: Michael Helfand | Nov 18, 2011 4:01:18 PM

Would the ministerial exception apply to the FLSA? I thought it was just a judicially created doctrine to bar application of the anti-discrimination laws. A religious organization could hardly claim interference with its autonomy to hire/fire its ministers by application of the FLSA could it? Personally, I would be outraged if religious organizations get an exemption for the FLSA as well.

Posted by: adjunct law prof | Nov 18, 2011 3:55:45 PM

Excellent work! Thanks for it.

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