[Unique Solution From 10/Pg] Called “ Ministerial Exception

Case Studies are stories that are used as a teaching tool to show the application of a theory or concept to real situations. Dependent on the goal they are meant to fulfill, cases can be fact-driven and deductive where there is a correct answer, or they can be context driven where multiple solutions are possible. Various disciplines have employed case studies, including humanities, social sciences, sciences, engineering, law, business, and medicine. Good cases generally have the following features: they tell a good story, are recent, include dialogue, create empathy with the main characters, are relevant to the reader, serve a teaching function, require a dilemma to be solved, and have generality.

Applied Exercise: Case Study – Petruska v. Gannon University

Step #1:  Read the scenario on pages 140 to 142 regarding the Petruska v. Gannon University

Also read the information below which summarizes some of the information delineated in the case:

Petruska v. Gannon University, 462 F. 3d 294 (3d Cir. 2006)

Issue: Whether a church affiliated university could discriminate on the basis of gender against a female chaplain who reported Title VII violations of a superior.

Facts: A female chaplain at Gannon University, a private, Catholic diocesan college was vocal in opposing Gannon’s campaign to cover up President Rubino’s sexual affair with a subordinate and other administrative policies and procedures which she viewed as discriminatory toward females. In her capacity as chair of the University’s Institutional Integrity Committee, she was instrumental in submitting a Middle States accreditation report which raised issues of gender-based pay inequalities of Gannon’s female employees and which was critical of the University’s procedures and policies for addressing sexual harassment and other discrimination. The university pressured her to change the report and she refused. She alleges that in retaliation for the foregoing conduct and because of her gender, she was discriminated against in the terms and conditions of her employment. Believing that she was about to be fired, employee served Gannon with two weeks notice of her resignation. The next day she was notified her resignation was immediately effective and she was to gather her things and leave campus. Her access to the campus and to students was limited by the university.

Decision: The University has moved to dismiss all claims on the ground that they are barred by the so-called “ministerial exception.” The ministerial exception is rooted in the First Amendment which provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The court said the ministerial exception to Title VII applied in discrimination cases involving religious institutions, rooted in the First Amendment’s prohibition on government entanglement with religion, precludes courts from adjudicating employment discrimination suits between church and minister. These are matters of church administration and would necessarily involve an investigation and review of church practices and administration and threaten the separation of church and state.

Step #2:  Respond to the following Case Questions.  Please organize your responses by first restating the question, and offering your response.  

  • Do you agree with the court’s decision? Explain.
  • As a manager in this situation, how do you think you would have handled the chaplain’s complaints?
  • Given the power that religious organizations have under Title VII, how do you think employment discrimination concerns can be addressed in the religious workplace?

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