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Allen Roberts Quoted in Article, “Minister Can’t Sue Church Agency Over Firing: Judge”

Thomson Reuters News & Insight

Allen Roberts, Member of the Firm, was quoted in an article titled "Minister Can't Sue Church Agency Over Firing: Judge."

Following is an excerpt:

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by an ordained minister fired by a church agency, saying it was unconstitutional for the court to become involved in the employment relationship between a religious institution and one of its ministers.

Rev. Douglas Mills's case was barred by the First Amendment's "ministerial exception," even if the minister also performed secular duties, Justice Charles Ramos of New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan ruled Tuesday.

Under the ministerial exception, religious institutions have been shielded in some situations from anti-discrimination laws.

Ramos applied the exception to Mills's breach of contract claim against the Standing General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, a New York-based agency of the United Methodist Church.

Allen Roberts, a lawyer for the United Methodist Church agency, said he believed it was the first time Hosanna-Tabor, an employment discrimination case, had been applied to breach of contract claims in New York.

"Justice Ramos understood and appreciated the special nature of the religious organization's employment of Rev. Mills," Roberts said in an interview.