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August 16, 2019 Practice Points

Seventh Circuit Upholds Dismissal of Church Organist Discrimination Case

The court found that the Catholic church organist fell within the First Amendment ministerial exception.

By Sanford Hausler

The Seventh Circuit held that if the Catholic Church believes that the organ music in its churches is vitally important to its religious services so that to advance its faith it needs the power to select its organists, judges may not dispute this. In so holding, the court upheld the district court's dismissal of an organist's discrimination case against the church when it fired him. The court found that the organist fell within the First Amendment ministerial exception and that, for purposes of that exception, the organist was a minister.

Sanford Hausler is an appellate attorney with Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP in New York, New York.

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