This case involved a Presbyterian minister who alleged sex discrimination against her church and two ministers. ?She complained internally, but the Church did nothing. The minister originally filed her claims in federal district court, some of which were? dismissed? on? First? Amendment entanglement grounds. ?The plaintiff appealed the dismissal of those claims and the dismissal was subsequently reversed by the Ninth Circuit. ?The plaintiff had filed a second action in state court. The Superior Court granted summary judgment and Division I affirmed. ?The court held that an adjudication of the minister?s claims would require it to re-examine decisions made by ecclesiastical bodies regarding the minister?s complaints.?? This would violate the so called ?ministerial exception? which insulates a church?s freedom to choose its ministers or practice its beliefs.?? ?The Court of Appeals distinguished the Ninth Circuit?s decision because the former was decided on a motion for judgment on the pleadings, while at summary judgment more evidence of entanglement with church doctrine was presented.?? The decision would seem to leave ministers without remedy for sexual harassment if they file an internal complaint against their supervisors (as at least federal law requires) but the Church hierarchy either ratifies the harassment or fails to take adequate remedial action. ?Elvig v. Ackels, No. 53764-4-I (09/27/04; Agid, Baker, Ellington).
Court Cannot Adjudicate Minister?s Claims Against Church
Sep 27, 2004