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Part 2: How Whistle-blowing is Protected and Why You Want it Anyway

Hi Brent, Back in law school, sometimes the prof would weave the entire semester’s legal principles into one diabolical hypothetical, and the single exam question would be your entire grade for the course. The general answer is that Mission Leader in your hypothetical is in big trouble, and the mission is probably now facing a lawsuit. 

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Part 1: Opening a Can of Worms - Investigations, Whistle-Blowing and Retaliation

Retaliation or whistle-blower lawsuits are the hottest thing in employment litigation, and missions should be aware of this. Good policies are important.  Missions should encourage internal reporting of the violation of these policies, and have a well-defined investigation process. Leaders should also know how to avoid issues with retaliation, including how to deal with troublemakers. Read More→

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Do I Have to Work on Sundays?

Some jobs require a person to work on the Sabbath. Does the law require you to work on your Sabbath, or does your employer have to accommodate your religious beliefs and let you go to church (or mosque or synagogue or temple)? As attorneys love to say, that depends. Two recent cases in late 2012 give some idea of how employers’ and employees’ rights are balanced in the context of time off for worship. Both cases are based on Title VII, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on religion (and includes all aspects of religious observance and practice)—unless the employer can demonstrate that it cannot reasonably accommodate the religious observance without undue hardship.

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Expectations Are Embedded in Ritualizing Milestones

missionary lifecycle ceremoniesTheresa – Clearly articulating the vision throughout the life of the missionary, and “ritualizing” it into the developmental milestones (such as a local church dedication service) creates an awareness in all the parts (the church, supporters, family, mission) of the multiple possible futures of this mission life... 

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Check the Box or Build the Body? Why Legal and Psychological Care are an Important Part of the Mission

member care of missionariesBrent, sometimes your area and mine — human resources and crisis management — are seen as necessary but dull policy stuff that must be taken care of, but are boring and irrelevant to the mission. I disagree — I see healthy psychological and legal services as building up the body of Christ. Member care and crisis management should be embraced as a component of Christian community and the love that marks Christians... 

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The Last Straw Better Not Be Religious

Nyaboga v. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, a recent unpublished cased from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, discusses whether an employee was fired for legitimate reasons or for religious reasons. Nyaboga was fired, then she sued over whether she was entitled to unemployment benefits. She had worked as a nurse, and asked not to be scheduled for Saturday shifts when she got more serious about her religious beliefs as a Seventh-Day Adventist. Her employer required her to find people to replace her on that shift (which the Court hinted might have been a separate problem, but was not discussed in the opinion). By the time Nyaboga lost her job, she had been tardy 58 times and warned repeatedly. She was warned that she would lose her job if she were absent one more time or tardy two more times.

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Reprise of the Hosanna-Tabor Facts and Principles

Although it doesn’t have much independent value as a precedent, a recent case is an eerie factual copycat of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, an employment law case that applied the constitutional ministerial exception doctrine. Herzog v. St. Peter Lutheran, an August 2012 memorandum opinion out of the federal Northern District of Illinois, faithfully applies the Hosanna-Tabor principles to a similar set of facts.

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