Teacher’s discrimination suit dismissed on ministerial exception doctrine

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In a case similar on its facts to the Supreme Court’s Hosanna-Tabor case, an Illinois federal district court applied the ministerial exception doctrine to dismiss an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former teacher at a Lutheran school. In Herzog v. St. Peter Lutheran Church2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107229 (ND IL, Aug. 1, 2012), Janet Herzog began teaching in the Lutheran elementary school as a lay teacher in 1987, but subsequently took further course and became a “called teacher.” She taught primarily secular subjects, but also held religion classes 4 days per week. The school terminated her employment, saying it was for budgetary reasons. Herzog however charged discrimination on the basis of age, sex and marital status.