Issues on Sexual Harassment Surface in Religious Community
The #MeToo movement continues to gain traction nationwide, seeking to expose prevalent and persistent sexual harassment targeted mostly towards women in industries ranging from Hollywood, the national media and Corporate America. It has naturally found its way into the religious community. The Jewish community now contends with recent harassment claims by female rabbis, who are considering legal action.
The oft-blurry line between law and religion has surfaced in cases involving ministers with claims of sexual harassment. The potential impediment: the Ministerial Exception, a legal doctrine that exempts religious organizations from the reach of anti-discrimination laws. Appeals courts have differed on whether the Ministerial Exception applies to these cases. This question has yet to be fully fleshed out in the courts as more cases involving such allegations are commenced. For now, religious institutions can focus on education, policies and compliance in their efforts to create and maintain a safe, lawful and appealing work environment.