Heyl Royster


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Heyl Royster





Religious organizations are faced with increased operational challenges due to the vast number of laws and regulations governing their operations and charitable pursuits. An incorrect decision today may cost a religious organization a tremendous amount of time and money in the future. Our Religious Organizations/Clergy Practice Group uses a teamwork approach to providing expert advice in advance of important decisions involving transactional and litigation matters. 

Our attorneys defend religious organizations and their clergy in state and federal court and before administrative agencies with respect to all areas of civil litigation. We handle all aspects of the case including investigation, witness preparation, administrative agency proceedings, pre-trial, trial, and appellate work.

Heyl Royster's reputation and extensive experience provide our clients with the best and most current legal advice and expertise. The attorneys in our Religious Organizations/Clergy Practice Group have extensive trial and appellate court experience. Our attorneys are members of several organizations which support the interests of religious organizations, including the National Diocesan Attorneys Association. In cases where litigation is necessary, we develop defense strategies which emphasize resolution of the case in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Listed below are some of the areas where we represent religious organizations and clergy:

  • Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation issues:
    • Race
    • Age
    • National origin
    • Sex
    • Religion
    • Disability
    • Equal pay
    • Pregnancy
    • Sexual orientation
  • Leave issues:
    • Family
    • Medical
    • Disability
    • Pregnancy
    • Sick
    • Military
  •  Compensation
    • Exempt vs. non-exempt classification
    • Vacation pay
    • Final compensation
  •  Confidentiality agreements
  •  Administrative agency processes and procedures
    • U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
    • U.S. Department of Labor
    • Illinois Department of Human Rights
    • Illinois Human Rights Commission
    • Illinois Educational Labor Board
    • Illinois Public Labor Board
    • Illinois Department of Labor
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Tax and Tax Exemptions

Representative Clients

Catholic Diocese of Peoria

Catholic Charities

Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

Christian Buehler Home

Institute of Charity

Apostolic Christian Home

Significant Cases

  • John Doe, et al. v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 2008 Trial court dismissed six abuse lawsuits with prejudice based on statute of limitations 
  • John Doe, et al. v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 2008 Trial court dismissed ten clergy sex abuse lawsuits with prejudice based on statute of repose grounds.
  • West v. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Rule 23 Order (3d Dist. 2010) Affirmed trial court decision granting summary judgment on First Amendment grounds to minister and religious entities in defamation action.
  • Pichon v. Resurrection Cemetery Association, et al. Trial court denied plaintiff’s Petition for Class Action Certification arising out of alleged negligent and intentional trespass to gravesite. Interlocutory appeal denied. We represented the defendant.
  • Bush v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 351 Ill. App. 3d 588 (3d Dist. 2004) Appellate Court affirmed trial court's determination that Dioceses proposed protective order was appropriate. The protective order barred plaintiff from disseminating information disclosed in discovery; Appellate Court held that parties have no First Amendment free speech right to divulge to others information disclosed in discovery.
  • Tomic v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria 442 F.3d 1036 (7th Cir. 2006) Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in age discrimination claim based on application of the ministerial exception.
  • Bush v. Catholic Diocese of Peoria (3d Dist. 2007) Affirmed trial court's dismissal of removed priest's breach of contract claim under First Amendment. Also affirmed dismissal of count for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
  • Bogner v. Villiger 343 Ill. App. 3d 264 (3d Dist. 2003) Appellate Court affirmed granting of preliminary injunction prohibiting defendants from operating an irrigation system through a cemetery.
  • May v. Myers 254 Ill. App. 3d 210 (3d Dist. 1993) Statements of chancellor of Roman Catholic Diocese in canonical decree imposing censure on diocesan priest are not defamatory per se.