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The church-teacher relationship in a church-operated school differs from the employment relationship in a public or other nonreligious school. There is no escape from conflicts flowing from the National Labor Relations Board's exercise of jurisdiction over teachers in church-operated schools and the consequent serious First Amendment questions that would follow.
Petitioner National Labor Relations Board asserted jurisdiction over lay teachers employed by respondent church-operated schools. Petitioner ordered that respondents cease their unfair labor practices and bargain collectively with the unions, which were representing the teachers. The appellate court denied enforcement of petitioner's orders. The Court granted certiorari and held that petitioner had no jurisdiction over lay teachers employed by church-operated schools.
Are teachers in church-run schools excluded from the coverage of National Labor Relations Act?
To allow petitioner jurisdiction over such matters presented significant risks that the First Amendment would be infringed. The Court also held that in the absence of a clearly expressed, affirmative intention on the part of Congress, the National Labor Relations Act failed to extend to lay teachers employed by church-operated schools.