Saturday, April 03, 2004

Split panel of Fourth Circuit finds ministerial exception to FLSA for kosher food inspector

In Shaliehsabou v. Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, Inc., the Fourth Circuit in an opinion by Judge Williams, joined by Judge Widener with Judge Luttig dissenting, affirmed summary judgment for the employer in an overtime case brought by a plaintiff the Court concluded was a "ministerial" employee. The plaintiff was employed as a "mashgiach," which is defined as "an inspector appointed by a board of Orthodox rabbis to guard against any violation of the Jewish dietary laws." The employer was a non-profit home for aged Jewish persons. The Court noted the Fourth Circuit has recognized a ministerial exception to the FLSA, in Dole v. Shenandoah Baptist Church, 899 F.2d 1389 (4th
Cir. 1990).

Judge Luttig in dissent offered his opinion that there is no such thing as a ministerial exception or if there is, it would not apply to the plaintiff in this case.

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