EEOC v. Harris Funeral Homes, Inc. — Sixth Circuit Discusses Our Amicus Brief

admin Statutory Construction, U. S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

The Sixth Circuit’s decision, issued today, addressed an issue that our amicus brief had raised, which had not been raised by the parties. That issue was whether the Harris Funeral Home qualified under the “ministerial exception” to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Sixth Circuit disagreed, ruling that the Funeral Home did not qualify. Unfortunately, the Harris Funeral Home — which was owned and administered by a Christian Family — had previously decided that it would not seek that protection — asserting that it was “not a religious organization.” The Sixth Circuit cited cases which have narrowed the ministerial exception to only overtly religious organizations such as churches. It is our view that many Christian business owners run their businesses very much like ministries. However, this is a concept that is foreign to many of the lawyers who work in this area, and the judges who rule on these cases who want the statutory exception to be interpreted as narrowly as possible.

Read the Sixth Circuit’s decision here.