Legal Defenses for Religious Organizations

A white paper by Theresa Lynn Sidebotham, Esq. and Hugh Jones, Esq., Charity Counsel, about religious organizations and their various religion-based exemptions and defense.


Religious organizations in the United States have various religion-based exemptions and defenses. First, they have broad constitutional and statutory rights. These rights provide religious organizations various freedoms to carry out their mission, and defenses to claims against them. While there is no one formal test to define a religious organization, Title VII’s two exemptions are helpful to consider because they apply to a broad variety of employment discrimination disputes. Download this white paper to learn more, and also to review a test with similar factors developed in National Labor Relations Board cases, and the Hobby Lobby and World Vision tests. Then we discuss possible approaches.

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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