Pastor’s breach of contract case heads to court of appeals

On Behalf of | Aug 9, 2018 | Contracts And Licenses

Various documents are necessary in the workplace. Employment contracts can serve a very important purpose in the business world. On one hand, it can allow an employee to solidify his or her compensation and benefits, as well as the term during which he or she will be employed. On the other hand, a business can secure a strong candidate for a given period of time with protections in place to ensure that, even once the employment period runs its course, certain protections remain in place to protect the business’s best interests.

Sometimes, though, contractual issues can become complicated, particularly when a breach is alleged. That is the situation for one Pittsburgh pastor and the church he was formerly employed at. There, the pastor was hired after signing a 20-year employment contract, but his effectiveness as a pastor was drawn into question after church membership dropped by more than 60 percent and donations fell by more than a third. As a result, the church essentially fired the pastor prior to his contractual term coming to an end.

The pastor then filed a lawsuit for breach of contract seeking damages suffered due to the church’s contractual obligations not being fulfilled. The church initially won the case, though, claiming that the decision to fire the pastor was protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment because the decision to release the pastor dealt with religious matters.

The issue is now on appeal, as the pastor claims that the reason for the firing, drops in membership and donations, was strictly secular in nature. He claims, then, that the firing was secular and nature, which lands it outside the purviews of the First Amendment. This, in turn, he claims, qualifies as a breach of conduct.

This case is a very narrow look at one type of breach of contract, but it does show how what seem like minor details have the potential to dictate the outcome of a case. Therefore, those considering creating, entering into, or challenging the breach of a contract should ensure that they know the law and how to use it to their advantage.


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