Saturday, January 09, 2021

Ministerial Exception Applies To Title IX Hostile Work Environment Claims

In Koenke v. Saint Joseph's University, (ED PA, Jan. 8, 2021), a woman employed by a Catholic university sued under Title IX claiming sexual orientation discrimination.  The court held that the Supreme Court's Bostock decision should be read to apply to sexual orientation discrimination under Title IX as well as under Title VII. All the parties agreed that plaintiff's position as Assistant Director for Music and Worship was a "ministerial" position for purposes of the ministerial exception. However plaintiff claimed that the ministerial exception does not apply to non-tangible employment discrimination claims such as hostile work environment.  The court disagreed, saying in part:

[H]ostile work environment claims, particularly those brought pursuant to Title VII or Title IX, clearly fall within the scope of cases banned by the ministerial exception.... The Supreme Court has not cabined the ministerial exception to tangible or intangible employment actions, and it is not for this Court to create such an exception to binding precedent.