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SMALL BUSINESS NEWS

13 Apr 2015

 

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Denying Service on Religious Grounds

Can a business refuese to serve someone based on their deeply held religious beliefs?  This question has been in the news lately because of a bill signed into law by the Indiana Governor called the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act”. 

 

What is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and what rights does it give to individuals and businesses?
This law exist at the federal level as well as at the state level.  The federal government passed such a law in 1993.  Twenty(20) states have laws protecting religious freedoms.  These states have this right enshrined in their constitutinos or as separate laws.

These laws basically states that:

“Government shall not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except as follows….

          

(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and
 
(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compel-ling governmental interest.”

These laws also provides for judicial relief in this way:

“A person whose religious exercise has been burdened in violation of this section may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government.”

So, what does it mean for small businesses that do not want to provide certain services that they determine to be religiously objectionable?  It means that businesses can refuse to provide certain services based on deeply held religious beliefs using these laws as a defense.  However, it does not stop someone from suing the business  for discrimination.  The business can go before the courts and use these laws as a defense and in some cases if they win the case they are permitted to be reimburse for all legal expenses.  However, refusing to provide a service can result in harm to the business from boycut and negative publicity and for this there is no legal recourse.

To find out the specifics of the law in your state use these sources:    Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas.

 

Sources:
Public Law 103-141 (The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993)
Alabama
Arizona
Arkansas
Connecticut
Florida
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Mississippi
Missouri
New Mexico
Oklahoma
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
Tennessee
Texas



By Jack River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

  
 

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