Often companies are interested in incorporating faith in the workplace, yet how do they do so while following legal guidelines in the areas of hiring, training, and operations & activities?
RELIGIOUS LAWS DEFINED:
There are multiple laws that restrain any type of screening of candidates due to religious beliefs as well as the incorporation of faith to the every-day activities of the company. However, there are legal alternatives to incorporate faith in the workplace that businesses may follow.
In order to be able to incorporate faith in the workplace, inclusion must still be welcomed despite any religious values the company wishes to follow. Companies must abide by Title VII of theCivil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and safeguard religious liberty.
When it comes to hiring, it is recommended to have an ongoing relationship with an employment and labor attorney in order to obtain legal guidance. Additionally, the company can express its religious stance to employees and be very clear in their goals and aspirations from the beginning of the hiring process. However, this must be done without enforcing any religion or beliefs on the employees. A good example of this is Chick Fil A’s hiring process. While they accept anybody to be part of their team, they require the company as a whole to espouse Christian values like closing stores on Sundays.
Regarding training and operations & activities, the law does not specifically mention restraints on religious influences in training or operations. The law does state “all agencies should consider practical steps to improve safeguards for religious liberty in the federal workplace, including through subject-matter experts who can answer questions about religious nondiscrimination rules, information websites that employees may access to learn more about their religious accommodation rights, and training for all employees about federal protections for religious observance and practice in the workplace” (Exec. Order No. 13798 § 4, 82 Fed. Reg. 21675 May 4, 2017). There are multiple faith-friendly and faith-based businesses that have successfully incorporated their religious beliefs to their company while respecting religious freedom. A great example of one of these companies is Hobby Lobby who utilizes their Christian religious beliefs to carry out their operations successfully.
Religious corporations, religious associations, religious educational institutions, or religious societies are exempt from the federal laws that EEOC enforces when it comes to the employment of individuals based on their particular religion (Pre-Employment Inquiries and Religious Affiliation or Beliefs, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, https://www.eeoc.gov/pre-employment-inquiries-and-religious-affiliation-or-beliefs). These companies are exceptions and they are allowed to be more inclined to hire employees with the same religion. As stated, there are many restrictions to consider when trying to showcase faith in the workplace. The law is very restrictive when it comes to this subject. However, modeling the examples above is a secure legal alternative for all companies to follow and be able to incorporate faith in the workplace.
Article By Nouvelle L. Gonzalo Esq. and Macarena Bazan
Nouvelle L. Gonzalo, Esq. is a U.S. and international corporate lawyer who works with companies across the globe. She is the managing attorney of Gonzalo Law LLC, a U.S. and international corporate law firm with offices in Florida and Ohio. In addition to the active practice of law, she has served as adjunct faculty of international corporate law for several years. She was recognized as a rising star by the national organization, Super Lawyers, in 2019 and 2020. Her practice areas include: international corporate law, intellectual property law, and nonprofit law. You can contact her with any questions or for a complimentary consult at [email protected].
Macarena Bazan is a current junior at the University of Florida majoring in Political Science and Business Administration with a specialization in Pre-Law. Macarena is a Legal Intern for Gonzalo Law a U.S. and International Corporate Law Firm, the Vice President of the University of Florida chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, and a member of the Honors College. She placed 3rd in the National Phi Alpha Delta Mock Trial competition and has received the President’s Honor Roll and Dean’s List throughout her college career. Macarena has been with Gonzalo Law since January 2020. She focuses on case research, drafting and editing contracts, and additional research.