Employers are prohibited from discriminating against its employees based, among other things, on race, gender, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or familial status. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against its employees. This means that an employer cannot punish an employee for engaging in legally protected activity. For example, if an employee complains either to a supervisor or to an outside agency (such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) about workplace discrimination and the employee subsequently suffers a negative employment action as a result of making the complaint, the employer has unlawfully retaliated against its employee.
However, the law is filled with exceptions. One of the exceptions to employment discrimination and retaliation is called the “ministerial exception.” This exception was recognized by the United States Supreme Court in 2012 in the Hosanna-Tabor case where the Court found that a fourth grade teacher, who taught mainly non-religious subjects at a religious school, could not sue her employer for retaliation.