The Dean of Oxford University's Christ Church can press ahead with his bid to sue to the college for discrimination after a judge ruled he was its employee.
The Very Reverend Martyn Percy, 58, is taking legal action over an attempt to oust him by fellow dons following a probe into his handling of sexual abuse claims.
A Church of England inquiry exonerated the Dean but colleagues continued to speak out against him, prompting him to sue for religious and disability discrimination.
Christ Church tried to have the case thrown out by claiming Dr Percy was not a legal employee because he had no contract and had instead been hired under centuries-old statues.
But the move to thwart the Dean, who presides over the cathedral and college, has failed after a judge came down in his favour.
The Very Reverend Martyn Percy, 58, is taking legal action over an attempt to oust him by fellow dons following a probe into his handling of child sexual abuse claims
In a written judgement following a three-day heading, employment judge Andrew Clarke QC said: 'At all times material to his claims in these proceedings the claimant was an employee of the respondent.'
He added: 'There is no written contract of employment, no grievance procedure and there is no power in the respondent to give notice (although a retirement date is specified).
'Why there is no grievance procedure is unclear, I accept that when the claimant asked, he was told that this was a matter which needed to be addressed.
'His appointment is by Letters Patent, but so are the appointments of Canon Professors and the Sub-Dean, all of which have grievance procedures and contracts of employment (in the form of letters containing some terms and conditions).
'The Dean's salary is not set by statute, it is left to the parties to agree.
'I consider there to be a wage/work bargain in place here. The respondent pays the claimant and in return for that and other benefits he has agreed to carry the duties of Dean.'
Christ Church (college pictured) tried to have the case thrown out by claiming Dr Percy was not a legal employee because he had no contract and had instead been hired under centuries-old statues
Last month, Dr Percy was exonerated by the church following accusations he failed to properly deal with allegations of historic child sexual abuse.
An investigation found he had acted 'entirely appropriately' in handling the allegations and at no point has it been suggested he himself was involved.
He faced four complaints made to the Church's National Safeguarding Team and was accused of mishandling historic abuse allegations reported by former students.
It followed internal complaints against him in 2018 of which he was cleared in a private judgement never made public in June last year and he was reinstated.
But still 41 members of Christ Church's governing body wrote to the Charity Commission to accuse Dr Percy of 'unsound judgement to try to have him removed from his £90,000-a-year post.
Dr Percy said the ruling meant a line had been 'firmly drawn' under questions over how he dealt with historic cases.