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First Amendment means church music director can't win age-discrimination claim if she's fired, court says

The Massachusetts Appeals Court today dismissed a woman's suit against the Archdiocese of Boston for the way she was fired as director of musical ministries at a Franklin church without even considering her claim that the new parish priest didn't like either her age or gender.

In its ruling the court said the First Amendment contains a "ministerial exemption" that lets religious organizations fire anybody who has any say in the organization's religious mission.

In this case, the court ruled, Alessandrinia Menard had such a say because her job involved selecting music for religious services at St. Mary's Parish - which it determined in part based on a parish-newsletter article which she wrote - and which the Archdiocese submitted as evidence that she fell under the "ministerial exemption:"

In it, she explained that "[m]usic choices for [Mass] Liturgies are carefully and prayerfully chosen to correspond with the readings from the Lectionary and the prayers from the Roman Missal." Menard wrote that the "goal" of these choices "is to form reinforcement of the Holy Scriptures so that we may better understand them, and to encourage full and active participation of the assembly."

Among the cases the court sited was a 2012 Supreme Judicial Court decision that upheld a Newton temple's right to dismiss a Hebrew-school teacher, who also charged age discrimination.

PDF icon Complete ruling142.73 KB



I did not expect the Supreme Judicial Court to lean hard into the Free Exercise Clause, but here we are.

(If you want to go down the rabbit hole, the history of the Free Exercise Clause is, uh, one of the more interesting bits of legal history you'll read today. It's basically 150 years of the Supreme Court radically reversing course every ~50 years about how much illegal shit you can do while screaming "but it's my RELIGIOUS BELIEF")

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That case cost the tax payers mucho.

The woman lost in court but maybe she won something in the public eye by bringing this further to light. These religious organizations are essentially feudal states operating on democratic soil.

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like this to reimburse the courts for their time and costs.

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.... for those who can afford to loose?
Deposits up front?

Dumbest idea since debtors prison.

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to pay court costs as part of the damages. But if a plaintiff loses a court case, then the taxpayers are expected to eat those costs?

And if a plaintiff has to consider the possibility of paying court costs if they lose, that might get them to think a little harder about whether the case has merit before filing it. Especially with the increasing proliferation of lawyers who entice clients by saying "If we don't win your case, you don't need to pay us."

These are the types of things we need to consider if we want to reform the civil justice system - which is getting increasingly out of control.

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How do you know she couldn't afford to lose?

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This time, listen to your instructor as to why these things were set up DIFFERENTLY than they were in Ye Olde Stinky Britain.

Seriously - look it up in the history of the US and case law. Don't just make stupid comments here. We already know how little you understand about law. What is annoying is that you don't even seem to want to learn.

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