"US Supreme Court West Facade" by Matt Wade / CC BY-SA 3.0

Supreme Court Weighs Whether Parochial Schools Are Exempt From Fair Employment Laws

May 11, 2020

By Nina Totenberg

For the second time in as many weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is tackling a major religion case. This time the question is whether lay teachers at parochial schools are exempt from the nation’s fair employment laws.

But the court’s eventual decision could reach beyond teachers, affecting the lives of millions of other employees who work for religiously affiliated institutions.

For decades, lower courts have recognized an exception to the nation’s employment laws for ministers. The purpose is to protect leaders of the faith, and their religions, from interference by the government.

The exception extends to religiously affiliated institutions when they fire employees who serve in a religious capacity akin to that of a minister.

But how do we define who is a minister and who is not?

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