Age Discrimination / really bummed out
  • Just really bummed out, and wonder how to know when to consult an attorney.
  • KARU27
    Posts: 87
    Oh dear. Found this case that is not very encouraging.
    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1171153.html

    "This age-discrimination suit by the former music director and organist of a Catholic diocese, dismissed on a motion to dismiss, requires us to consider the scope of the rule that federal courts may not exercise jurisdiction over the internal affairs of religious associations."
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,461
    Age discrimination cases are very hard to win even outside of religious organizations given the normal at-will employment common law of most American states. Especially if it's for non-hire rather than involuntary termination. Even in the case of the latter, you can be lawfully fired for being any reason except a handful of excluded reasons, but if the excluded reason is hard to prove, the protection they offer is illusory.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Carol
    Posts: 326
    This seems like it began mid-conversation. Whatever has occurred is obviously upsetting. I will pray for you, Continuousbass.
  • Continuous Bass,

    It's only time to consult an attorney if your goal is to make both yourself and your employer good company in penury and the attorney "wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice."
  • Prayers for your situation...
  • prayers for you.
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,956
    Consult an attorney.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,956
    Lawsuits are not the only things that lawyers do. They work with contracts, severance agreements, mediation--lots of things.

    If your employer consults attorneys, so should you.
  • Thank you for thoughts and prayers, dear forum members. Without having to resort to any details, I'm grateful for the response. Certainly my diocese deserves better than age discrimination ("we're old, you're the youngest one here").
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,387
    We are all old in my choir. The average age is 60-something. We can still beat the H out of smart-aleck whippersnappers, any day.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • Back in my journalism days, I got laid off (at age 24 and zero days) as a token young person dumped with a bunch of 50-somethings, essentially to get around any age discrimination lawsuits. On one hand, I was super-unlucky and never really worked in journalism again. On the other hand, it (slowly) started the process that led me back to the organ bench, and eventually to the music director job I have now, nearly nine years later.

    It's funny how God arranges things sometimes.
  • Fortunately I play with other choirs and cantors, so not a huge loss. Someday I'll be old enough to make a more significant contribution to music. Certainly feel old enough, rheumatoid arthritis, greying hair.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,956
    Employment is such an odd business. You sign up to be cooperative and supervised. But the hiring and firing aspects are not like that. You have to switch sides all of a sudden, and face these same people across a negotiation table.

    Even odder when they're priests, or the bishop's HR or Finance officers. But there ya go...
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,350
    Many lawyers are willing to offer an initial consultation for free. In particular, you'd want to contact a lawyer specializing in _employment_ law, at least to find out if he or she could negotiate some compensation for your removal.
    Thanked by 1Kathy
  • The court case referred above called to mind the yesterday's Matins reading (1 Cor 6:1-6), the Apostle reproaching Christians for the disputes among them seeking recourse to pagan courts. If in the Continuobass' case, too, the dispute possibly involved the repertory questions then the secular court might judge similarly. Maybe better to seek the solution Church-internally. For that one might wish to consult canon lawyers first. This site seems to refer for a gratis consultation: https://stjosephcanonlaw.com/
    There are other sites, too, like www.canonlawprofessionals.com
  • Excellent point, Andris!
  • Kathy
    Posts: 4,956
    Andris, I think the (beautiful) passage in 1 Cor is more about individuals' disputes with others. In the Old Testament, these things were settled by the judges and the kings, all within the tribe. Even more, with the Holy Spirit, shouldn't there be wisdom enough among us to judge?

    There are a lot of reasons why I think this doesn't apply directly to employment law in the Church. I'll mention 2.

    1. The Church in this case can't judge because it is one of the parties in the dispute, so there is a conflict of interest.

    2. Every diocese also retains its own lawyers, so choosing not to consult one for spiritual reasons is not what the Church itself is doing.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I guess the definition of age discrimination would vary from state to state. In my state there is a loophole, 12940(a)(5)(A), which I just fell through, so legally discriminated against. Sigh.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,350
    It's not surprising. Things are probably the same in other states too, since courts, for First Amendment reasons, tend to stay out of churches' decisions about musicians, as they are lay people who help conduct services.
  • Can someone clarify what age discrimination is in the context of the liturgical choir? Are you saying they didn't let you sing in a choir because you're not old enough?
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 931
    Based on the context of the conversation so far...

    I think that what @Continuousbass is talking about is either denial or termination of employment as a liturgical musician due to his or her "more advanced" age.
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,594
    I have a hunch all Loud really needs help with is
    <font color=purple>How do you make the purple?</font>
  • >> Are you saying they didn't let you sing in a choir because you're not old enough?
    speaking for myself, definitely yes, that's right.

    After a couple of decades in which parents have come to me saying ":oh my son / daughter really wants to be in the choir (although son/daughter is never in sight, and never expressed any such wish), I came to the unhappy conclusion that it was the parents really who wanted to hear them sing, but would not want to stay while son/daughter practices...
    Enough. The other singers work too hard to put up with this. So we added to our very few rules: All singers must have own transportation.
    I recommend it.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 966
    I have a bicycle! Does it change things if I add that I have been cycling for 65 years?
    Thanked by 2Carol CharlesW
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,350
    In many work situations, the motive for discriminating against older workers is the temptation of replacing them with cheaper younger workers. Is that at play in this case? Most church musicians have rather low pay anyway, so that the potential savings from lower pay are not much.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,564
    Not just pay. Accrued benefits--such as pension, health-insurance, vacation--usually are more costly for workers with years of service.

    But there's also this: a new hire will be far more compliant with the wishes of the hiring party, whether pastor or "liturgy commish." Why fight when you can fire, instead??
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • All singers must have own transportation.
    I recommend it.


    I guess that's an effective way to not get anyone who's visually impaired or poor or even someone who gives a ** about the environment.

    Not sure it would work in getting singers, though, I've never heard of a correlation between musical skill and car ownership before.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • I do almost all of my practicing in the car. (True statement, purple intent.)
    Thanked by 2mattebery CharlesW

  • nothing was said about one having to own a car. And the veiled accusations of uncharity are offensive.
    where are those random moderator reminders that used to pop up... about keeping the conversations here civil.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,387
    where are those random moderator reminders that used to pop up... about keeping the conversations here civil.


    I try to be civil but these people make it nearly impossible

    I understand the transportation thing. I had 3 teenagers, same family, who wanted to sing in the choir. They had good voices, but were too young to get licenses. It quickly became difficult and impractical to get them to and from church for rehearsals.
  • Charles,

    I'm not plural, nor schizophrenic. "These folks", surely, is overblown as a description.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 636
    I wish people would stop ragging on CharlesW. He's one of the most reasonable persons on this forum. I almost always find his remarks refreshing and his posts edifying. I also occasionally learn something.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,387
    I'm not plural, nor schizophrenic. "These folks", surely, is overblown as a description.


    "What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me." Moses, Numbers 11:11. Chris, you did notice that was in purple?
  • whoa,whoa. let's take a breath here...

    No one here knows my own visual or financial circumstances, that I should be judged for being exclusive. If my resolution to a specific problem is not optimal to someone, for whatever reason, some good alternative ideas could be posted instead of critical remarks.

    In any case, I seem to have thrown this thread way off track, and for that I apologize. Maybe I should return to lurkdom.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,387
    In any case, I seem to have thrown this thread way off track, and for that I apologize. Maybe I should return to lurkdom.


    Never fear and don't worry about it. Years of teaching middle-schoolers has made me extremely thick skinned and immune to what anyone says.
    Thanked by 3canadash Carol CHGiffen
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,341
    Ms. Directress... please don't leave. There aren't enough women here. :) I won't speak for anyone else, but I've made many a faux pas... This is a great place to learn which is why I don't stay away.
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,350
    THE FRIENDLY REMINDERS HAVE BEEN RESTORED.
    THIS MEANS YOU.
    :-)
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 966
    Apologies if I have caused a ruction.
    I entirely understand that a choir director should not be expected to act as child minder for an hour while some parent finishes watching a ball game.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,350
    I'd like to see large parishes provide their own van service: I'm all for measures to help people get to church or even mid-week activities, if the parish can provide that for teens and elderly non-drivers.

    But in smaller churches, where that's not possible, it does seem necessary to expect that choir members plan to arrange substitute transportation, in case their usual provider falls through.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,387
    We tried the van service, but people kept moving. It is 20 something miles from center of town to the city limits. We would have had to run a fleet of vans to get everyone to mass. In a more compact city where people are centralized, it would work well.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • Charles,

    Mine should have been in purple, too. Sorry for the confusion.

    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Carol
    Posts: 326
    I would hate to see any of the regular posters depart! I enjoy all the varying view points and I think we all should assume that people are writing with the best of intentions! There are enough other places where taking offense is a favorite pasttime. Please let's all assume the best of our colleagues here!
    Thanked by 2canadash CHGiffen
  • I understand the transportation thing. I had 3 teenagers, same family, who wanted to sing in the choir. They had good voices, but were too young to get licenses. It quickly became difficult and impractical to get them to and from church for rehearsals.


    So how did their parents get them to other hobbies that they do?

    In my neck of the woods, it would not be unusual for a parent to stay on site, even in the room, with a child or teen attending a church activity. If the parents can't/won't transport them, they walk, or catch the bus.

    It's most certainly not the church's responsibility to provide transport for people.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,387

    It's most certainly not the church's responsibility to provide transport for people.


    I agree. Then you get into the child protection (VIRTUS) aspect, as well. With these kids, if someone would pick them up, the father would come get them. He was from Africa and barely spoke English, so I could only communicate with him through the children. It all turned out to be an unworkable situation.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • This reminds me of a really ridiculous situation I had before Christmas. I arrived earlier than usual before our weekly rehearsal, and some of the kids in children’s choir were working on their play with the Sunday school teacher. I’m in my office working and one of my youngest kids comes in. The others had left, and I said “Where is your dad?” “Oh he had to go do something he’ll be back in a little bit. Umm okay, what would he have done had I not showed up early, just left her there alone? The girl is 9. She’s a nice kid and very motivated so I asked if she wanted to have a little lesson, and we just worked on their Christmas Eve piece until the dad returned. I was annoyed, but didn’t say anything because I’m trying to grow that part of our music program and don’t want to piss off a parent.

    I haven’t dealt with transportation issues yet, but if an adult choir member needed a ride and it wasn’t too far out of my way I’d have no problem picking them up. I have a seven passenger van, and it’s perfect for transporting older or disabled people, or anyone really. There’s this idea of carpooling too. I know some of my choir members ride together sometimes. I know what it’s like to be without transportation, lived for two years in a small town with no car and no public transport. Thankfully I had family there to help out when I needed to go somewhere. We are still a one vehicle family, but now live where there is excellent public transportation and we can get the bus right at the end of our street. I guess I’m a softy and don’t mind giving rides if I know someone needs one, even if I know my charity can and will be taken advantage of at some point. I guess it comes with the territory. It’s really depressing and isolating to not have any way to get around, and I definitely wouldn’t want it preventing one of my singers from participating.
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • I think that - as with so many things - these are questions (how to handle the situation with the child that is left on her own; transportation of choir members) that everyone has to weigh and balance carefully for themselves, pros and cons.

    With transportation, risks range from false accusations of impropriety to liability should there be an accident even where the driver is not at fault. This is more obviously an issue with children, but could still apply to adults. Just saying that is always something to consider carefully.

    As regards the parent, I might have chosen to hide my annoyance but still clarify that leaving his child without turnover to an adult opens the parish up to potential liability issues and can't happen. At the very least, this is likely an issue from Virtus perspective. The discussion can be handled in a way that doesn't alienate the parent, but makes it clear that this is inappropriate and not to parish standards. If the parent is at all reasonable, they will acknowledge that the feedback is appropriate and thank you. If the parent isn't reasonable, that might raise the question as to whether you really want that family's participation that badly.

    Just some thoughts...
  • Wow. FidemInFidebus, if your situation had happened to me, I would immediately have proceeded with the child to a public area of the building where there was likely to be other people around. Being alone with a child in an enclosed area pretty much cannot happen. Being along with 2 or more of them is just OK - ideally there should be 2+ adults (one police vetted at all times). And this is as much for the protection of the adults' reputations as the children.

    Transporting children - again, you can never be left alone with one of them. So if one child needs to be taken home by church (or school) personnel, two others must come along for the ride, so that the adult is safe on the return journey.

    If lifts are to be shared or organised - it must be done by the parents, not be the church.
    Wayyyy to risky Guess who would be blamed if there was an accident.

    FWIW - I don't even own a car. If a place cannot be reached using public transport or a lift I've organised, then I don't go.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • Pax, Fidem, others....

    So long as we let the current climate of fear and what we used to call CYA (among teachers; it may have other acronyms elsewhere) dictate what we do with or around or even near children, they (the children) will increasingly think of the state as the proper parent. God forbid that we should continue down that path. Let us, rather, treat children as children and stop treating normal, good people as if they are criminals.
    Thanked by 1FidemInFidebus
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,564
    Let us, rather, treat children as children and stop treating normal, good people as if they are criminals.


    Yah, well, it's not US who need that preaching, my friend. I spent time with the Boy Scouts 30 years ago or so, and during that time, BSA handed down their equivalent of VIRTUS. The lawsuits were expensive; defensive actions are much cheaper. Also happened to have HR responsibilities in same time-frame, same stuff came down.

    We live in a very flawed society.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,387
    I am sure VIRTUS is a crock mandated by the insurance companies and promoted by the diocese as a CYA program. However, I keep my certification up to date and am never alone with someone else's children. That is the current state of the world and the church. As a DM, I have to stay on top of where the kids are and who is with them.
    Thanked by 2Carol StimsonInRehab