Religious for-profit business

The notion of “religious business” is also referred in doctrine to as “belief business”, “trend business” or “identity company.” This legal concept has implications in employment law and labor law. Thus, in a structure benefiting from this legal qualification, such a religious congregation, the employer may derogate from the principle of non-discrimination based on opinions or religious beliefs, and may establish operating rules consistent with religious precepts. It may, for example, require its employees a specifique profile, including clothing, outdoor presentation. Any employee who would not respect these rules would likely be punished.

In the area of confessional finance, the concept could obviously be applicable. If the concept would be applicable to Christians financial actors, the employer of a bank would have the right to hire candidates with regard to confessional criteria. It could also organize the social life of the company in the light of the principles of the Bible and of the Chruch Social Doctrine.

However in Germany and in France for the time being, commercial enterprises remain excluded from the qualification, despite the opinion of some bankers and academics to an extensive application of the concept of “belief business” to commercial companies. In the United States of America, as part of the decision “Burwell v. Hobby Lobby” of Supreme Court issued on 30 June 2014. In this case the United States Supreme Court allowed closely held for-profit corporations to be exempt from a law its owners religiously object to if there is a less restrictive means of furthering the law’s interest. It is the first time that the court has recognized a for-profit corporation’s claim of religious belief.

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