Sexual Harassment Investigation by Church Is Not Subject to Judicial Review


A court in Illinois ruled in favor of the First Amendment’s ecclesiastical abstention when it held that a minister, attempting to dispute a church investigation of sexual harassment claims alleged against him, could not seek relief from the court system. The ecclesiastical abstention doctrine prohibits the courts from getting involved in a religious institutions’ internal religious governance or theological disputes. There are exceptions to this rule when the court is applying neutral principles of law to a situation. 

This excellent article from Wagenmaker & Oberly discusses the importance of confidentiality around internal disciplinary proceedings, having high-quality procedures in place to address allegations of sexual harassment, carrying out those procedures carefully, and being aware of potential legal liability. To read more about this case and learn what the significant take-aways are for religious organizations click here.


The views and opinions expressed in this guest post belong to the author, who is responsible for its content, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Telios Law PLLC.

For more information about the authors, please visit Wagenmaker & Oberly

Because of the generality of the information on this site, it may not apply to a given place, time, or set of facts. It is not intended to be legal advice, and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations