Many have contacted the NCLL regarding the recent Supreme Court decision that decided in the favor of Our Lady of Guadalupe School. This ruling was deciding whether Ms. Morrissey-Berru’s role in the school in teaching religious studies qualified the school for the First Amendment protections. The initial decision by the federal judge sided with the school. However, the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision stating that although she had “significant religious responsibilities” and was “committed to incorporating Catholic values and teachings into her curriculum,” her duties were not religious enough to invoke First Amendment protections.
This is a major ruling that could have had severe long-term legal implications. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and the decision was 7-2 in favor of Our Lady of Guadalupe School finding that the government cannot control a church school’s decision about who teaches their religion classes. This is a major win for religious schools across the country. If the Supreme Court had ruled against Our Lady of Guadalupe School, the ministerial employee status would have been at significant risk.
With this ruling, your school or ministry needs to be thinking about your employment contracts and employment handbooks. All of your materials should classify your employees as ministerial employees. They have a role at your ministry for the purpose of propagating the beliefs of the religious entity that controls the school or ministry. This classification is important for your employee to understand and your documents to specify.
Contact us today to review your employment handbook, employment contracts, and other employee information to ensure that you are sufficiently protected under the First Amendment. You can contact our office at 888-233-6255 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.