Proudly Serving Atlanta, Georgia

Does "religious freedom" allow businesses to discriminate?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Many recent cases have evaluated whether prohibitions against sexual discrimination also extend to and include prohibitions against sexual orientation discrimination. Many courts across the country have found that it does. Similarly, many states have laws protecting individuals from discrimination in the workplace and from private businesses.

In the recent Colorado cake baker case, the Supreme Court looked at whether a private business could refuse services to a gay couple citing “religious beliefs.” The case centered on whether cake designing was a first amendment/freedom of religious expression issue or discrimination. The Supreme Court’s ruling did not ultimately rule on whether businesses can discriminate against the LBGTQ community by citing the first amendment, but rather ruled that the Colorado Commission that ruled on the case had been hostile towards religion. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority, reaffirmed protections for gay rights while ruling for the baker, stating:

“The outcome of cases like this in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts...all in the context of recognizing that these disputes must be resolved with tolerance, without undue disrespect to sincere religious beliefs, and without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market.”

As employment attorneys dedicated to protecting individuals from discrimination, please contact our experienced Atlanta employment attorneys should you or a loved one face any type of workplace discrimination or harassment.