This area is certainly a hot trend topic for church law. If you have a day care or a church school with a number of employees, you certainly need to know these rules.
In former years, employees were terminable at will, meaning that persons could be relieved of employment at any time and for any reason. Also, employees could end their employment at any time, at will. However, in recent years, state and federal laws have come into place which change this picture.
If you have a church policy handbook or an employee handbook, it should contain a clause which says, This document does not constitute a contract of employment…”
Also, there is a litany of federal statutes that exist, which, if they apply, may result in serious consequences regarding termination of employees. They are, among others:
Title VII Civil Rights Act of 1964 This Act covers discrimination because of sexual harassment, racial or ethnic discrimination, and other areas of protection. The Act covers hiring, firing, and many things in between.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
The Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA
American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Fair Labor Standards Act which covers minimum wages.
Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (if applicable).
There is an excellent labor law firm in the Atlanta area, Postic and Babb, made up of Church of God-affiliated attorneys, who are experts in this field. One of the members of this firm has written a treatise on this subject entitled, Wrongful Termination. This is a very helpful book. Another helpful source is a book entitled, The Church Guide to Employment Law, by Julie L. Bloss. This book can be ordered through Christian Ministry Resources (see above).
Also, be sure that your church carries proper worker’s compensation insurance. This can be a very problematic area if you do not carry it.
In short, be very careful about labor relations and termination of employees. This is a new area of law that can be very troublesome for the unwary minister or church.