Thanks to the Supreme Court we now know that the religious convictions of the owners of closely held companies (which are not publicly traded) retain a protected status under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While paying for abortifacients may not be a driving issue in your business decisions, the Court‘s standard for determining which companies can benefit from a protected status echoes the old adage “if someone accused you of [having sincere religious beliefs], would there be enough evidence to convict you?”
Yesterday, the Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate applies to closely held companies with religious convictions in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell. The Court said in both cases that the mandate does not apply in this instance.
If you own a business and have sincere religious beliefs according to which you operate, protecting your right to operate according to your principles may depend on establishing your track record now. Under the Hobby Lobby standard, the government can make a neutral facial inquiry into the sincerity of a company’s expressed religious beliefs. Therefore, those religious values should be carried out consistently with regards to both your customers and your employees, unambiguously demonstrating both the religious purpose and the religious activities you value.
Anyone in business knows that integrity throughout a company’s culture is what determines the goodwill of customers, value of the brand, and overall success. If you have structured your business around your sincerely held religious beliefs, you are well-advised to apply them with integrity.