• NihilNominisNihilNominis
    Posts: 977
    Does anyone have any insight, maybe you’ve been on a hiring committee, as to how legal complications, plea bargains, or ongoing legal proceedings, affect a committee considering a candidate for a church job?

    I have sometimes been asked this question and given my half-donkeyed advice, but it occurs to me that, to be honest, I have never been on a hiring committee, so I’m not really in a good position to answer it. Anyone with that experience want to weigh in? I’m not talking about VIRTUS stuff.

    This is not about me nor anyone logged on here, fwiw. Just want to be an informed advisor.

    Also, is there any good or helpful way to be forthcoming about this in a cover letter or conversation that keeps the door open, in your experience?
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 2,701
    I guess we need to clarify to answer: is this question specifically pertaining to hiring within the church? Or do you mean in general?

    I ask, because diocesan policies can be a real hindrance here. I'm our parishes's safe environment coordinator (God help me; I despise it), and we have a long spreadsheet from the diocese (undoubtedly crafted with heavy input from legal counsel) that dictates how much time must pass from various infractions, until people can even volunteer at the parish. I am aware of one case, for instance, of a person who was caught possessing a small (misdemeanor) amount of pot in 2019, and their case still is not resolved by the courts. Our diocesan policy dictates that this person cannot even volunteer until full decade has passed. We won't discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of this policy (please; let's truly not get into it), but the fact remains that this person will be precluded from any ministry for a long time to come. Couple in the fact that we have in-depth mandatory background searches, means that you couldn't hide it even if you wanted to. (And, frankly, it would be a really bad look if you did hide it, only for it to be discovered after the fact!)
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,213
    Having been heavily involved in hiring in the 'commercial' environment, I can say that 'complications' (outside of minor traffic tix) are an excellent reason NOT to hire someone, if only for the reason that 'complications' will involve court time, usually a lot of it.

    Companies don't hire someone so they can spend company time in court.
    Thanked by 1NihilNominis
  • jcr
    Posts: 131
    I had a question that might have involved a dispute over what they call "wrongful dismissal". I consulted a lawyer about the situation received some good advice. (This was in Michigan) He told me that in Michigan (and quite a few other states) big business influences were so powerful that employees were not too well positioned to fight, not to mention the problem of continuing to work where you're not wanted. Add to this that the Church makes all employees "at will" employees, which means that anyone can be dismissed for any or no reason at all and no explanation is required. This is , I believe a development left over from the scandals prompting VIRTUS, etc.
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,213
    Add to this that the Church makes all employees "at will" employees, which means that anyone can be dismissed for any or no reason at all and no explanation is required.


    Commonplace for non-union employees everywhere.

    Although I haven't checked, my guess is that the Church has had the same policies for a long time, probably before Virtus.

    "Wrongful dismissal" court cases are generally brought in order to win $$$ in hopes that the (ex-) employer will pay out rather than take the publicity hits which will be spun mightily by the attorneys.
  • jcr
    Posts: 131
    I think that you are correct re the church's policies regarding "at will" status for employees. One pastor with whom we had a short term association dismissed at least two of the several musicians that followed my wife and I at his parish between Masses on Sunday mornings. He was quite a nice guy. He was highly thought of by the diocesan ombudsman. Not so much by the Vicar of the immediate area, though. As I mentioned before, though; how would you like to go back to the position having caused a forced retention of a superior who didn't want you in the position? Sounds unpleasant to me!

    We did send the whole record of the event to the local bishop who responded with a letter to us stating that Father--- would be happy to provide us with a letter of recommendation. He did, but it was the lamest letter of support I ever saw. No one in his right mind would have used it in an application package. Good luck to those who encounter such folks. There are far too many of them out there.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • Chaswjd
    Posts: 248
    Part of it would depend on the state you are in. Some states have statutes in effect which prohibit discrimination on the basis of prior criminal record unless that criminal record was related to the job for which the person was applying. If there are pending charges and the charges have nothing to do with the job, you may want to keep the person on the payroll until the charges are resolved one way or another. For example, homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle might be one of those crimes that you wait out until the court system resolves it if the person does not have to drive as part of his or her job. If the person goes to prison, you can generally fire them for failure to show and do the job. If the person is cleared, then there should be little problem with him or her continuing at the job.