Did you know that there is an exception to being able to bring an employment discrimination suit against the religious organization that employs you if you are a minister? One case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
Peters was a commissioned minister who taught at Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. In 2004 she was diagnosed with narcolepsy. Before her return, after a year of leave, the school board had moved to replace her permanently. She did not accept the “peaceful release agreement” she was offered. She then was terminated for “insubordination and disruptive behavior.”
She filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and they brought a lawsuit on her behalf. The Federal District Court found that the ministerial exception applied and since she was a commissioned minister she was not able to file a lawsuit. They appealed and the 6th Circuit Court found that she was not in fact a minister and therefore she could bring an employment lawsuit against the church. This was appealed and the Supreme Court reversed the 6th Circuit Court’s decision. The Supreme Court found that there is a ministerial exception and a church does not have to continue to retain an unwanted minister and cannot be punished if they do not retain an unwanted minister.