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The Church that asked for too much

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  • The Church that asked for too much

    I recenetly recieved an application for a job as a pastor in North Carolina. There were a number of questions and request made of me regarding pre-interview documentation. Does the law in North Carolina allow non-profits to skirt the labor laws and request that potential employees answer question like: blood type, medical history regarding mental health issues, how many times I've been married, and or divorced?

    Also I was instucted to provide them with a criminal backround check, a copy of my credit report, and a certified copy of my driving record. The odd thing about this is that its postition as pastor for a church. I think that this goes way too far and I have every intention of informing them of their error because I have no intention of allowing that kind of personal information to be viewed by people I don't know.

    Anyone that can lend me insight into this I'd greatly appreciate it.

    RevResent

  • #2
    Considering the kinds of payouts the Catholic Dioceses have had to make because of some of the creeps they've hired, I think it's entirely appropriate for most of their questions, although I don't know why they'd need blood type. And since you're representing their church and the 1st Amendment regarding separation of church and state, yes it's their business if your personal life matches the kind of life they espouse.
    I am not an attorney, and don't play one on TV. Any information given is a description only and should be verified by your attorney.

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    • #3
      Church that asked too much

      Thank you for your resonse, but regarding the catholic church, they hire from within not from without. It has been clear to all myself included that they could have ellivated many of the so called creeps (I'd use a stronger word) if they'd just responded to intital concerns and claims early on rather than ignoring the problem and thereby inabling these creeps to continue doing their dirty work for decades at a time.

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      • #4
        Criminal background, driver's history checks are extremely common in todya's world. Credit checks also so I see nothing unusual about that.

        As far a asking about mental health..you would be counselling your church members. Perhaps they feel that if you had a history of depression or something that you could not adequately counsel your members.

        Number of marriages and divorces..very similar. Many churches do not allow pastors to be divorced and I know of some that dont allow anyone who has been divorced to be a deacon. Its part of their belief.

        Remember that generally, asking the question isnt illegal its what is done with it that can be illegal. However, as the head of the church, I can see a very good case that you would need to fit the ideal of a spiritual leader as a bona fide occupational qualification.

        If you were a office admin and they asked those questions, that would be out of line since a person of any belief could be an admin. Once you get into the realm of being the head of that church, the fundamental belief's of the church come into play.

        Blood type? that one I have no idea. JMHO.
        I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
        Thomas Jefferson

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        • #5
          It's not that they are a non-profit; it's that they are a religious institution.

          Religious institutions are, in some situations, exempt from discrimination laws as they relate to the beliefs of the church.

          As already indicated, some of the questions you were asked are not only legal but common. Others can easily fall into the religous exemption. The final one, blood type, I have no idea but blood type, per se, is not a protected characteristic. IF NC protects genetic information (it is, as yet, not protected by Federal law; some states protect on that basis but by no means all and I'm not where I can look it up just now) then MAYBE you'd have a claim but the burden of proof would be on you to show that it was solely because of your blood type that you were turned down.
          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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          • #6
            I have represented the church I belong to, which is a Baptist church, and I wish they had screened a couple pastors like this. One of them took some church money he was not entitled to, and another was incapable of counseling members due to his own emotional issues. So I tend to think that those questions are largely appropriate for the job, although I understand why you would be concerned about them.

            Most anti-discrimination laws do not apply to churches. Religious institutions and private clubs are allowed to discriminate.

            Maybe you should just have a calm discussion with the elders or deacons about your concerns. If you want the job, that may actually help you to make a good impression.

            Good luck.
            Bob Bollinger, Attorney
            Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law
            Charlotte, NC

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            • #7
              I can't imagine why they want your blood type. Maybe they want to run a paternity test on you......just kidding. Maybe they want that in case of an emergency. If you get knocked out and are bleeding they can run in and get your application and tell the ER doc your blood type.....but a Red Cross donor card in your wallet will tell your blood type. That is a strange request.
              Bob Bollinger, Attorney
              Board Certified Specialist in NC Workers' Compensation Law
              Charlotte, NC

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              • #8
                The church that asked too much

                I'd like to take a moment and thank everyone that responded. Unlike some, I'm a man that can take suggestions. It must be a true, the actions of the few, always have a lasting effect on the many.

                I've done nothing that could be considered irreparable; I've served God's people with a clear mind and heart. I'm not Jesus but I know him, and love him.

                This last request was just the straw that broke the camels back, but this too shall pass. I pray they find what they are looking for. It wouldn't have bothered me if I'd been offered a position prior to this outrageous request for personal info, but they wanted to examine me and not give me the same opportunity to examine them. They wanted all my person info without as much as anyone on the committee giving me their social security numbers.

                They, asked me to divulge open my credit score, yearly salary, and everything else, while never even telling me what the position paid. This was just a bit too onesided, and legal or not I passed, on this position. I've go right too!

                Thanks again

                RevResent!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Morgana View Post
                  Criminal background, driver's history checks are extremely common in todya's world. Credit checks also so I see nothing unusual about that.

                  As far a asking about mental health..you would be counselling your church members. Perhaps they feel that if you had a history of depression or something that you could not adequately counsel your members.

                  Number of marriages and divorces..very similar. Many churches do not allow pastors to be divorced and I know of some that dont allow anyone who has been divorced to be a deacon. Its part of their belief.

                  Remember that generally, asking the question isnt illegal its what is done with it that can be illegal. However, as the head of the church, I can see a very good case that you would need to fit the ideal of a spiritual leader as a bona fide occupational qualification.

                  If you were a office admin and they asked those questions, that would be out of line since a person of any belief could be an admin. Once you get into the realm of being the head of that church, the fundamental belief's of the church come into play.

                  Blood type? that one I have no idea. JMHO.
                  I'd like to take a moment and thank everyone that responded. Unlike some, I'm a man that can take suggestions. It must be a true, the actions of the few, always have a lasting effect on the many.

                  I've done nothing that could be considered irreparable; I've served God's people with a clear mind and heart. I'm not Jesus but I know him, and love him.

                  This last request was just the straw that broke the camels back, but this too shall pass. I pray they find what they are looking for. It wouldn't have bothered me if I'd been offered a position prior to this outrageous request for personal info, but they wanted to examine me and not give me the same opportunity to examine them. They wanted all my person info without as much as anyone on the committee giving me their social security numbers.

                  They, asked me to divulge open my credit score, yearly salary, and everything else, while never even telling me what the position paid. This was just a bit too onesided, and legal or not I passed, on this position. I've got right too!

                  Thanks again

                  RevResent!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Personally, I think you will be better off someplace else. While I can understand the Church wanting to be thorough, this case seems waaay extreme.

                    I'm wondering if they got badly burned by someone in the recent past and want to be sure they dont make a mistake again. Instead of getting quality applicants, they are most likely driving the good ones away.

                    Best wishes to you. I'm sure there is something better for you in God's plan.
                    I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
                    Thomas Jefferson

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