Rosas v. Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop627 F.3d 1288 (2010) (en banc)

Cesar Rosas and Jesus Alcazar were Catholic seminarians who sued the Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop for, among other things, failure to pay them overtime wages under Washington state law. Based on the ministerial exception, the district court dismissed the case on the pleadings. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment require a “ministerial exception” to the employment statutes if the statute’s application would interfere with a religious institution’s employment decisions concerning its ministers. Sitting en banc, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the three-judge panel, but vacated that part of the earlier opinion in which the court announced a new test for determining whether a person is a “minister” for purposes of the ministerial exception. The en banc Court held that “we need not and do not adopt a general test for determining whether a person is a ‘minister’ because, on the facts as alleged, Rosas is a minister under any reasonable interpretation of the exception.” See also Stahl v. U.S., 2010 WL 4840090 (9th Cir. 2010) (a member of a “religious or apostolic” corporation, which is subject to 26 U.S.C. § 501(d), may be considered a common law employee of the entity for tax purposes).