Thursday, July 30, 2020

Ministerial Exception Doctrine Leads To Dismissal of Music Director's Discrimination Suit

In Menard v. Archdiocese of Boston, (MA App., July 29. 2020), a Massachusetts state appellate court held that the ministerial exception doctrine requires dismissal of a sex and age discrimination suit against the the Archdiocese.  In the suit, a church's director of music ministries claimed that the church's pastor subjected her to harassment and that she was retaliated against when she notified the Archdiocese. The court said in part:
In this case, Menard's job duties place her squarely within the ministerial exception. As implied by her title, director of music ministries, Menard's role was a substantive one. She selected and played music at all parish events, taught and conducted multiple choirs, trained the church's cantors, and organized the cantors' schedule for Mass. Far more than the rote playing of an instrument, ... Menard's job required her to thoughtfully select the music for each event and train others to perform it.