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I was a church board secretary and my dad is one of the

elders. Our Pastor sent an...
I was a church board secretary and my dad is one of the elders. Our Pastor sent an email with attachment to the elders, and since my dad is not familiar with opening files, he asked me to do so. With his consent and approval, I forwarded the file to some members of the council. The email did not indicate that it was supposed to be confidential and it wasn't. I was disciplined and told to step down from my position and other service I do for the church until I submit to the discipline of the Elders lead by the Pastor . They said what I did was a CRIME and a VERY SERIOUS ETHICAL BREACH. I still have an ongoing case in the church. Were the elders right on their accusations? I am based in New York
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/9/2018
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 125,784
Experience: Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
Verified

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

It is NOT A CRIME and it is NOT an ethical breach if the email did not indicate it was confidential for your father and it did not state it could not be shared. It is also not a violation of any law or regulation.

If your church wants to discipline you though, as they are a private religious institution, then they have a right to do so only by following their bylaws. If they do not follow their bylaws to show you violated a bylaw, you can sue them for not following those bylaws and if you show there was no indication on the email that it was private or confidential and that your father as the recipient authorized you to share it, you did nothing wrong.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
This is my other question then, I met with the elders and I actually admitted that I sent out the email and apologized to my Pastor. They required me to write a letter of apology to the council. I sent out the email. Even said that what I did was inappropriate and out of line. Now they are using my own admittance for my discipline. What can I say now to my defense or do I have any defense at all?

Thank you for your reply.

It was not unlawful to send the letter so you just admitted to doing what you were told. So all you need to say in your defense is 1) the letter did not say it was confidential and not to share and 2) your father who was the recipient told you to do it and you followed his instructions. That is all you can say.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you. This has given me the peace of mind and the confirmation that I didn't do anything wrong. God bless you, sir!

Thank you very much. God bless you as well.

Please do not forget to leave positive feedback by clicking on the 5 stars at the top of your page, as the experts are not employees of the site and get no credit for spending time with customers unless they leave positive feedback. Thank you.

Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 125,784
Experience: Attorney with over 20 years law enforcement, prosecution, civil rights and defense experience
Verified
Law Educator, Esq. and 87 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you so much for your clear and concise answers. I will be meeting with the church council on Sunday regarding my case. I know for a fact that my church doesn't have any by-laws or guidelines regarding my issue. We do not discipline anyone until my new Pastor came, I am actually the second one. The elders will not be able to produce anything of that nature. I have no desire to sue but for effect, so they will know that I've actually sought legal help, what kind of lawsuit can I mention that I can go after them for? I don't want this to happen again to anyone of our members.

Thank you for your reply.

Legally unless they cause you a monetary loss there is nothing to sue them over. So, it is best to just talk this out with them at this point.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you, ***** ***** They sent me a letter that was hurtful, accusing me from being malicious, divisive and disruptive which hurt me so much and caused me a lot of stress. I have witnesses, text messages, letter of petition to prove their accusations were false. Is there no liability on their part for what they've done to me? Again I'm just putting this out there.

Thank you for your reply.

I understand it is hurtful, but you cannot sue people just because they do hurtful things. The only way you have legal recourse is if it costs you some financial harm, but hurt feelings you cannot sue over.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you, ***** ***** appreciate your advice. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thank you for your reply.

I wish you the best.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I wish you the same, sir.

Thank you.

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