Monday, October 08, 2007

RFRA Precludes Applying ADEA To Forced Retirement of Clergy

A New York federal district court, deciding a case on remand from the 2nd Circuit, has held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act precludes applying the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to forced retirement of United Methodist clergy at age 70. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals had held that RFRA, rather than the "ministerial exception" doctrine, governs in applying the ADEA. (See prior posting.) In Hankins v. New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73724 (ED NY, Sept. 28, 2007), the district court found "that application of the ADEA to Defendants would place a substantial burden on their right to chose their own clergy and that the government does not possess a compelling interest in prohibiting age discrimination in the employment thereof. Thus, even if the ministerial exception is not applicable in this manner, RFRA's strict scrutiny standard compels an identical result."