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Hiring New Austin Employees and Religious Preference

Austin Startups often find success and begin the recruiting process to help fuel future growth. Unfortunately, there are typically no HR experts in the Austin startup team, and legal knowledge of advertising and recruiting is usually slim. To none. Keep an eye out for intentionally or accidentally involving religious preference in your recruiting.

Religious Preference for Future Austin Startup Employees

This article will relate to Texas employers who advertise over the internet. This is a very typical scenario and applies to almost all employers operating in Texas. The Texas laws regarding religious discrimination in the workplace are slightly less precise than Colorado's laws. However, federal laws still outlaw commenting on religion in any part of the hiring process. Advertising for an employee candidate will almost always trigger federal law's applicability; the advertising for your position via a medium that crosses interstate borders, such as the internet or print mail, certainly does trigger the applicability of federal law non-discrimination laws.

There is an exception to Title VII's religious hiring requirements, but that exception applies only to entities whose purpose is holy and who behave with a spiritual sense. Determining that a company's purpose and behavior are religious is very fact specific. In other words, it will be very lucrative for the attorney to prove that your business is a religion. Therefore, no exceptions exist to Title VII's prohibition against using religion during employment decisions.

Title VII of the Civil rights Act of 1964 makes it unlawful to make employment decisions based on religion, with only the one exception described above. The EEOC interprets that rule as "invidious barriers to employment," such as an advertisement to "work in a Christian environment," also contrary to Title VII. This is because people of other faiths are very likely to be too uncomfortable to apply for a job with a company that represents itself in such a way during an employment activity. It is not lost on the EEOC or courts that companies who advertise this way hope applicants of other faith will be too uncomfortable to apply for such positions. None of this is to say that an organization or other employees cannot have religion in the workplace, just that you cannot make employment decisions based on religi n. This is an excellent line, and I highly encourage Texas employers to find an attorney and explore ideas related to religion in the workplace if your organization is religious or has religious employees, particularly religious supervisors. For example, Abercrombie & Fitch, a Lutheran school, and UT Southwestern Medical center all recently received holdings that may complicate or add nuances to the rules employers can use to hire based on ideas, hunches, or comments regarding religion.

Recent Hobby Lobby activity and activity related to providing health care coverage has not dealt with Title VII matters and does not apply to this discussion.

Please get in touch with Austin Startup Attorney Natalie Lynch if you need legal advice on this topic.