Religious Organization Exemption and Ministerial Exception


The United States Supreme Court declined to review Spencer v. World Vision, Inc., in which the Ninth Circuit held that a humanitarian organization qualified as a religious corporation, association, or society.  In Spencer, the Ninth Circuit upheld the grant of summary judgment in favor of World Vision, Inc. in claims brought by employees who had been terminated for expressing religious beliefs that were inconsistent with those of the organization.  The Ninth Circuit concluded that because World Vision, Inc. operated as a nonprofit, was organized for a self-identified religious purpose, and held itself out to the public as a religious organization, it was therefore a “primarily religious” organization entitled to avail itself of the Title VII exception.  The United States Supreme Court is currently examining the scope of the ministerial exception and heard argument on October 5, 2011 in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC.     

If you have questions regarding whether your organization may be subject to an exemption, please contact Tamara Gerrard, tmg@torkildson.com, (808) 523-5366



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