Some Reflections on Labor and Employment Ramifications of Diocesan Bankruptcy Filings
David L. Gregory
St. John's University - School of Law
March 1, 2008
Journal of Catholic Legal Studies, Vol. 47, pp. 97-127, 2008
St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-0121
Sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic clergy is perhaps the greatest scandal in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. On September 7, 2007, the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, California, announced a $198 million settlement with 144 claimants. In mid July, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced a $660 million settlement with 508 claimants, following a November, 2006 settlement with 86 claimants for an additional $114 million. Five prominent Catholic dioceses in the United States have filed for bankruptcy since 2004, facing (and, perhaps, seeking to avoid) enormous liability for tort damages caused by clergy sexual abuse. There is a burgeoning law review literature examining many different dimensions of the situation. However, no article, thus far, has focused on the labor and employment ramifications of the crisis. In this article, I study the five diocesan bankruptcy cases. I also discuss the status of labor and employment relations with the Church as employer, in light of secular case law, canon law, and Church teaching. I then present an overview of labor and employment relations consequences of diocesan bankruptcy, including, paradoxically, the possible resurgence of unionization and collective bargaining by, inter alia, school teachers in primary and secondary Catholic schools.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Date posted: March 19, 2008 ; Last revised: October 27, 2008
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