Novikoff Secures Second Circuit Affirmance of Summary Judgment for the Archdiocese of New York

July 17, 2017 | Employment & Labor

In a case of first impression, Ken Novikoff, working with the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, secured summary judgement on behalf of our client, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously ruled that although a former principal of a parochial school within the Archdiocese did not hold a religious position with the school, she was barred by the First Amendment’s ministerial exception from bringing a discrimination suit against her former employer. See Fratello v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, 175 F. Supp. 3d 152 (S.D.N.Y. 2016).

In the decision, the Court of Appeals relied on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC, 132 S. Ct. 694, 650 (2012), which ruled that a religious-school teacher could not sue her employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act for terminating her employment after she became sick.

The Court of Appeals, in Fratello v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, applied the Tabor analysis in ruling that Plaintiff could not assert a Title VII claim because Plaintiff, as head of a parochial school, is a “minister” of the church.

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