Court: Can gov't get involved in church dispute?

By JESSE J. HOLLAND | October 5, 2011 | 5:10 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether the government can get involved in a workplace dispute between a church and one of its employees.

The court will hear arguments Wednesday from the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School of Redford, Mich.

Cheryl Perich got sick, then tried to return to work. Still, the school, now closed, fired her. She complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which sued the church.

Religious groups say the case should be thrown out. The Americans With Disabilities Act has an exception to prevent government involvement between churches and ministerial employees.

But a federal appeals court said Perich's job as a teacher was secular, not religious, so the exception blocking the lawsuit didn't count.