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Should religious employers jump on the “ban the box” bandwagon?

If your ministry asks potential volunteers or employees about any criminal record, do you need to throw out your application and start anew in light your state’s “ban the box” law? This post addresses how religious employers should be aware of “ban the box” laws and the changing legal landscape of considering criminal history in hiring.

Recovered Memory Therapy is Dangerous for Therapists as Well as Patients

Recovered memory therapy continues to be a controversial topic, with experts debating about whether it is valid. As a legal matter, this controversy has slowly spilled over into an increased risk of liability for the therapist who chooses to use the technique. More and more states are holding that parents of children who recover memories of sexual abuse can sue the child’s therapist because the therapist has helped to create false allegations against them. Michigan is the latest jurisdiction to affirm the right of a child’s parent to sue the child’s therapist.

Courts and Churches—Interfering in Some Ways But Not Others

Not everything a church does to a pastor is outside the reach of the court. That is a recent lesson church officials learned in a case out of Ohio federal court dealing with the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. Also known as the church autonomy doctrine, this is the principle that civil courts will stay out of the doctrinal and important decisions a church makes, such as the decision to fire a pastor or remove a parishioner from membership. This case, Barrow v. Living Word Church, et al.,1 is an interesting twist on the doctrine, and serves as a word of caution for churches.

Four Things Your Ministry Needs to Do to Get Ready for the New Overtime Rules

Pastors work tirelessly preparing for sermons, counseling parishioners, and managing other administrative aspects of running a church. A teacher at a religious school spends countless hours developing lesson plans, and even more instructing students on matters of doctrine. A missionary’s work in the field does not fit the traditional 9 to 5 work day, and the person may be “on call” nearly 24-7. Often, religious workers, driven by a sense of calling, work far more than a 40-hour-work week. Does a religious organization have to pay overtime under a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? While the answer used to be “most likely not,” a recent change in the rules governing when overtime must be paid creates some confusion, and probably a mixed result.

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