Demkovich v. St. Andrew the Apostle Parish,, No. 19-2142 (7th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
In 2012, Demkovich was hired as the music director at St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church. Demkovich is gay, overweight, and suffers from diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Demkovich claims Reverend Dada subjected him to a hostile work environment based on his sexual orientation and his disabilities. After Demkovich married his partner, Reverend Dada demanded Demkovich’s resignation because his marriage violated Church teachings. Demkovich refused. Reverend Dada fired him. Demkovich filed hostile environment claims under Title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Seventh Circuit initially declined to extend the constitutional "ministerial" exemption to categorically bar all hostile environment discrimination claims by ministerial employees where there is no challenge to tangible employment actions like hiring and firing. On rehearing, the court ordered the dismissal of all of Demkovich’s claims. The First Amendment ministerial exception protects a religious organization’s employment relationship with its ministers, from hiring to firing and the supervising in between. Adjudicating a minister’s hostile work environment claims based on the interaction between ministers would undermine this constitutionally protected relationship. It would also result in civil intrusion upon, and excessive entanglement with, the religious realm.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on August 31, 2020.